Sleep issues and your teeth
Sleep disorders can cause a number of problems, and although most of them are diagnosed and treated outside the dentist's office, some are directly related to the patient's mouth. Here are a few sleep disorders that you might want to discuss with your dentist:
€‹Bruxism, also known as nocturnal teeth grinding, occurs in many people around the world. A survey conducted by the University of Quebec revealed that around 8 percent of its participants experienced bruxism. While occasional tooth-grinding will not do much harm, people who regularly experience bruxism can have serious dental damage. The cause of this condition is unknown, but many people suspect it is linked to stress, drug use, pain in the neck or head, side affects of prescription medications and abnormal alignment of teeth.
Usually it is not necessary to treat bruxism, but in some cases, patients may need to see their dentist. The dentist might want to do some dental work to realign teeth, have the patient use a mouth guard or prescribe medication that will help relax the jaw muscles while the patient is asleep. If these measures don't work or are not good options, stress management or behavior therapy may be recommended to the patient.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep, causing the soft palate to block a patient's airways and affect breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause snoring, interrupted breathing, dry mouth, lack of good sleep, sore throat and other problems. According to Know Your Teeth, dentists play an important role in the identification of obstructive sleep apnea.
"Dentists are often the first professional to become aware of a potential problem since they are usually in contact with their patients more frequently than are physicians," said J. Michael Owen, DDS, FAGD, Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson. Once the condition is properly identified, the dentist may recommend a specialist.
The dry mouth commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnea can cause excessively bad breath in the morning. During sleep, saliva production slows, and when you add dry mouth to the equation you get the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Fortunately, obstructive sleep apnea is treatable, and treatment can take the form of surgery, special sleeping equipment or a dental appliance. Dental appliances are one of the less invasive fixes, so if you're diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, talk with your dentist about a dental appliance.
Snoring can be a part of sleep apnea, but it can also be caused by many other things. Almost everyone in the world has snored at some point, due in large part to sleep position or a nasal passage obstruction such as mucus or swollen nasal passageways. Sometimes, however, snoring may be a dental issue. It can be the caused by the way that people's mouths have developed or their teeth are oriented. Snoring can cause dry mouth and sore throat and can even cause patients to lose sleep. In some cases, dental work, such as realigning teeth, can right the problem and in other cases a dental appliance, much like the ones used to help patients with obstructive sleep apnea, are needed. If snoring is causing problems, talk with your dentist.