Some people experience the unfortunate symptoms of sleep apnea without realizing that there is a cause. Your Langley dentist might be able to help spot the signs that you are experiencing sleep apnea during your routine visit and suggest that you follow up with your physician for diagnosis.
The most common symptom reported by those suffering from sleep apnea is waking up exhausted after a full night's sleep. Because sleep apnea can harm your teeth, your dentist may be the first to notice the symptoms and share this information with you.
When a person has sleep apnea their breathing is frequently interrupted while they are trying to sleep. These pauses can be caused by a lack of respiratory effort, a physical obstruction of airflow, or both. The length and frequency of these pauses can vary significantly.
The Obvious Signs Of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can have an effect on your oral health. Your dentist may notice these common signs during your routine exam:
- Receding or inflamed gums
- Tongue with scalloped edges
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Teeth grinding (bruxism), which may cause wear and breakage
- Spike in cavities due to damage to teeth as a result of grinding
- Redness in the throat (caused by excessive snoring)
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The cause of OSA is a physical obstruction in airflow while sleeping. OSA symptoms include choking or gasping while sleeping, waking frequently during the night, night sweats, morning headaches, loud snoring, high blood pressure, and dry mouth when waking.
A person who is experiencing these symptoms may spend the day feeling exhausted despite having slept a full night. Sleep apnea has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What Steps Will My Dentist Take If They Spot The Signs Of Sleep Apnea?
A dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea. However, because your jaw and related structures can contribute to OSA, they are often the first people to notice symptoms or tell you if you are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Your dentist can perform a dental exam as well as take X-rays of your neck and mouth, which may reveal abnormally large tissues in the throat or other airway blockages. If they notice any physical obstructions, they will advise you to see your doctor or a specialist.