Sleep Apnea: Keep Your Sleep Disorder From Damaging Your Jaws

Dentist Blog

If you're one of the 30 million people who suffer from OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, it's important that you seek care from a dentist. Although OSA affects your breathing, the condition can cause problems with your jaws, including temporomandibular joint disorder. Here's how OSA affects your oral health and tips you use to fight it:

How Does OSA Affect Your Body and Jaws?

OSA develops when the soft tissues in your throat collapse or relax as you sleep. The condition prevents you from inhaling and exhaling air (breathing) multiple times a night. The cessation of breathing keeps oxygen from reaching your vital organs, including your brain, heart, and mouth.

In order to obtain the oxygen your organs need, your heart rate speeds up. The increase in heart rate allows blood to pump faster through your blood vessels. Your jaws also react to the effects of OSA by clamping together. The action helps you breathe through your nose instead of through your mouth and throat.

If your jaws clamp together regularly, it can wear down your temporomandibular joints. Your temporomandibular joints connect your lower jaw to your upper jaw and temple. If the joints experience stress every night, they can eventually deteriorate and develop a disorder called TMJ. TMJ can produce a host of symptoms that include pain, swelling, and difficulty chewing. You may even experience pain in the tissues close to the joints, including your ears and temple. 

You can stop or prevent sleep apnea or TMJ without the appropriate treatment.

What Are Your Treatment Options for OSA and TMJ?

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that requires immediate care. Without treatment, OSA can cause issues with your heart, brain, and other critical organs. In addition, TMJ can also cause lifelong pain. The dental condition may eventually damage your teeth and gums. 

One of the healthcare professionals you can see for both conditions is a dentist. A dentist can prescribe a sleep apnea appliance, such as a jaw advancing device or mouthguard, that keeps your airways open and jawbones relaxed throughout the night. These types of devices realign your upper jaw with your lower jaw so that your mouth doesn't slip open during the night. Instead of breathing through your mouth, you inhale and exhale through your nose.

A dentist will generally monitor your conditions carefully throughout your treatment. However, most patients respond well to their treatments.

If you're ready to treat your sleep apnea and prevent TMJ, contact a dental office like the Leidenheimer Dental Group Inc


2 October 2017