Can sleep apnea be caused by dental problems? - Southampton Aesthetic Dentistry

Can sleep apnea be caused by dental problems?

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Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This can lead to poor sleep quality and other health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Sleep apnea is a common problem in the USA, with an estimated 22 million Americans suffering from it. However, many people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed and untreated, which can lead to serious health complications. It is important for people who suspect they may have sleep apnea to seek medical attention and treatment.

Sleep apnea can be related to dental problems. One of the most common forms of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep. This blockage leads to disrupted breathing and reduced oxygen levels, causing the person to awaken frequently throughout the night.

Dental problems and oral structures can contribute to the development of sleep apnea. Some examples include:

  • Malocclusion: Misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite can affect the positioning of the jaw, potentially contributing to airway obstruction during sleep.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: Problems with the jaw joint can cause the lower jaw to shift backward, narrowing the airway and increasing the likelihood of sleep apnea.
  • Large tongue or tonsils: A large tongue or enlarged tonsils can obstruct the airway during sleep, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Retrognathia or micrognathia: These conditions involve an underdeveloped or abnormally small lower jaw, which can lead to a compromised airway.

How to understand that sleep apnea is of dental origin?

If sleep apnea is of dental origin, it may be related to dental issues such as bite problems or misaligned teeth. Southampton Aesthetic Dentistry, a dental clinic in Southampton, can provide dental care that may help diagnose and treat these issues. Some signs that sleep apnea may be related to dental problems include snoring, waking up with a sore or dry throat, headaches in the morning, or difficulty sleeping. A dental professional can evaluate a patient’s oral health and determine if bite problems or other dental issues are contributing to sleep apnea.

An orthodontist can play a role in treating sleep apnea. If a patient’s sleep apnea is caused by dental issues such as bite problems or misaligned teeth, an orthodontist can help by providing orthodontic treatment to correct the bite or teeth alignment. This can help to open up the airways during sleep, reducing the frequency and severity of apnea episodes.

In addition, an orthodontist can also provide oral appliances, such as a mandibular advancement device, which can be worn during sleep to help keep the airways open. These appliances can be an effective treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

It’s important to note that the treatment approach will depend on the individual patient’s condition and the underlying cause of their sleep apnea. It’s recommended to consult with a sleep specialist or a dental professional at Southampton Aesthetic Dentistry who specializes in treating sleep apnea to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

In some cases, dental appliances, such as mandibular advancement devices, can be used to treat sleep apnea by repositioning the jaw and tongue to maintain an open airway during sleep.

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