This blog addresses the question, “How sleep apnea affects the body” and is second in a two-part series on Sleep Apnea. Dr. Wolnik offers Sleep Apnea Treatment near Cleveland.
Considering how much stress sleep apnea puts on the body during the night, it’s not surprising that it can take a toll on your physical health. However, sleep apnea can also seriously affect your dental health as well. So just how does sleep apnea harm us and how can your dentist help get you diagnosed and treated?
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body
Aside from snoring, which is not typically a red-flag signaling central sleep apnea, some of the most common physical symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Frequent overnight waking
- Cognitive issues such as poor concentration and short term memory loss
- Mood swings, depression, and anxiety
- Morning headaches
- Gastro Esophageal Reflex Disease (GERD)
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated blood glucose levels
- Weight gain
Dental Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
In addition to causing a host of physical issues, sleep apnea, can also contribute to serious problems with oral health. Some of the most common dental issues associated with sleep apnea include:
- Jaw and tooth pain
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)
- Cracked, broken or missing teeth
- Worn anterior teeth
- Pain in the muscles of mastication
- Chronic headaches
- Neck and shoulder pain
Long-Term Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Not only can untreated sleep apnea cause a variety of bothersome issues, it can also contribute to the development of very serious systematic diseases. The constant struggle to keep the body oxygenated during repeated apnea episodes puts stress on the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and blood sugar levels, which can cause potentially dangerous issues:
- High blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
- Atrial fibrillation
Fortunately, with proper diagnosis, sleep apnea is relatively easy to treat. If obesity is a contributing factor, weight loss is the first step, as added weight, especially around the neck, can contribute to developing apnea. Other treatment options include changing how you sleep. If snoring only occurs when you are on your back, consider getting fitted for an oral appliance to help keep the airways open. Additionally, you can use a CPAP machine and mask-a device that delivers continuous air into the nasal passages during sleep, keeping the airways open and reducing apnea episodes.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is considered a common stress-related dental issue, and is often treated as such by oral health care professionals. However, recent studies have shown that more often than not, bruxism is actually a symptom of sleep apnea. When the throat begins to relax too much at the start of an apnea episode, the jaws and teeth begin to clamp down in an effort to prevent the throat muscles from blocking the airwaves. This clenching of the jaw and teeth then creates a majority of the dental-related symptoms of sleep apnea. Because the majority of Americans visit their dentists more frequently than they do their family physician, odds are good that your dentist will be the first health care professional to notice the signs. If any symptoms of sleep apnea are discovered, your dentist can order a sleep study or refer you to a sleep specialist.
If you aren’t showing any dental symptoms of sleep apnea but do show physical signs, it might seem counterintuitive to mention them to your dentist. However, keep in mind that your dentist’s primary commitment is the same as your family physician’s: keeping you as healthy as possible and helping you realize a higher quality of life. So if you have any concerns about sleep apnea, please do not hesitate to mention them to your oral health care provider.
Sleep Apnea Treatment near Cleveland
Dr. Wolnik offers sleep apnea treatment in Parma Heights, located in Cuyahoga County, near Cleveland, Ohio.
About Kenneth J. Wolnik, DDS
Dr. Wolnik received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in 2002. For over ten years, he and his staff have been committed to providing outstanding oral health care to each and every patient seen in the office, and strive to respectfully provide expert care in all aspects of oral health, including cleanings, fillings, accident reconstruction, and complex esthetic rehabilitation. Located in Parma, Ohio, Kenneth J. Wolnik DDS, Inc. is known for exceptional service and community involvement.
6363 York Rd, Ste 202
Parma Heights, OH 44130
Monday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Tuesday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Thursday: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Friday: 7:30am – 1:00pm