Sleep Apnea And Gum Disease: What's The Connection, And What Can You Do About It?

Dentist Blog

Do you awake in the morning feeling irritable and moody, rather than refreshed? Has your partner told you that you snore at night? These are symptoms of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which a person has difficulty breathing or, in some cases, stops breathing altogether for a while. If you think you have sleep apnea, you should certainly talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment. However, there's also another medical professional you'll want to visit: your dentist.

Sleep Apnea, Dry Mouth, and Dental Problems

Most people with sleep apnea have a form of the disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, in which the tissue at the back of the throat closes over your airway, making it difficult to breathe. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea typically snore loudly with their mouths open. This causes the mouth to dry out.

Dry mouth is more than just a nuisance. Frequent dry mouth increases your risk of dental ailments such as gum disease and tooth decay, since the oral bacteria that cause these conditions thrive when the mouth is dry. If you think you are suffering from sleep apnea, or if your doctor has diagnosed you with this condition, it's wise to make an appointment for a checkup with your dentist. This way, you ensure any issues are caught early when they're easier to treat.

Treating Dry Mouth Caused by Sleep Apnea

The the best way to alleviate dry mouth and the problems it causes is to treat the sleep apnea. For most patients, this means making a variety of lifestyle changes such as:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding caffeine and large meals before bedtime

If your sleep apnea is severe, your doctor may recommend that you sleep with a c-pap machine, which will keep you from stopping breathing. While you're working with your doctor to find a treatment for your sleep apnea, your dentist will likely recommend making a few changes to minimize the effects of dry mouth on your dental health. These might include:

  • Using a fluoride mouthwash to harden the tooth enamel and reduce the risk of cavities.
  • Applying a moistening cream to the teeth and gums before bedtime.
  • Avoiding salty foods, which tend to dry the mouth out even further.

Though sleep apnea can strike anyone, it's most common in people who are male, overweight, habitual smokers, or over the age of 65. If you fall into one of these categories, be on the lookout for symptoms of sleep apnea, and contact both a physician and dentist, such as Dr. Jeffrey Pancer and Associates, if you think you might be suffering from this condition.


6 April 2015

A Beautiful, Healthy Smile

Do you want to do everything in your power to keep your teeth beautiful and healthy? To help you accomplish this worthwhile task, consider visiting your trusted dentist twice each year. During this time, you can get your pearly whites cleaned and examined. Besides seeing your dentist semi-annually, brush your teeth at least twice each day. Make sure to floss at least once a day too. Drink a glass of water after mealtimes. Doing so helps wash away food particles on your teeth. On this blog, I hope you will discover simple, ingenious tips to help you maintain your gorgeous smile. Enjoy!