Keeping your teeth clean and cavity free is one function of dental visits, but preventive visits provide more than that. When you visit your dentist for checkups and cleanings, your overall oral health is assessed at each visit. That means things like checking for signs of oral cancer, jaw disorders, misaligned teeth, and damage from teeth grinding. Your dentist may also ask about sleep habits and snoring, to discern if you would benefit from an oral device to help address obstructive sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a cessation of breathing that lasts for a few seconds (and sometimes longer) hundreds of times a night during sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea are often unaware of the sometimes near-constant disruptions. They can become aware when a sleep partner reports heavy snoring or disrupted sleep. Those who sleep alone may notice daytime fatigue despite spending adequate time in bed. There are different types of sleep apnea, but one of the most common, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused when the throat tissues collapse inward, blocking the flow of air.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Oral Health
It is easy to see how sleep apnea affects overall health, as body systems become overtired from lack of restful and restorative sleeping. Driving can become dangerous, and work routines are made harder when suffering from fatigue. Sleep apnea affects oral health directly if snoring dries out the mouth, meaning saliva cannot rinse away the bacteria that contributes to tooth decay. In addition, sleep apnea is associated with teeth grinding, which puts stress on the teeth and jaw, leading to microfractures and weakened teeth.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Obstructive sleep apnea can often be addressed by a custom fitted dental appliance, worn during sleep. This appliance holds the tissues of the mouth and throat in the correct positions to prevent the throat tissues from closing. Often snoring is greatly reduced or eliminated, as a secondary benefit.
Do You Snore or Wake Up Feeling Unrefreshed?
Snoring and sleep apnea can negatively affect your oral health and your overall health. To schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Folck, Dr. Maddux, or Dr. Phaup, call Absolute Dental Care in Virginia Beach, VA, today at (757) 428-7440. We also proudly welcome patients of all ages from Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampton, Eastern Shore, and all surrounding communities.