Nawar Taha, DDS
As a dentist in Katy, TX, many people are surprised when I ask them questions about their sleep. What many people don’t realize is that dentists can help screen for sleep apnea, a serious health condition that can take years off your life. People with sleep apnea stop breathing during sleep. This can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Sleep apnea can also affect your dental health.
During your regular dental exam appointments, I look for signs of many different conditions, ranging from gum inflammation to diabetes. Many different health issues can show up as symptoms in your mouth and teeth, which is why the American Dental Association recommends getting routine cleanings and dental exams. During the exam, I also look for signs that could indicate sleep apnea, such as a large tongue or narrow airways. I may also ask you about other symptoms like fatigue and snoring to screen for your risk for sleep apnea. Therefore, if I notice signs that you may have sleep apnea, I may recommend you visit your primary care physician to follow up.
Even after diagnosis, there are still many things I do as a family dentist for my patients with sleep apnea. For example, I can look for signs that sleep apnea may be affecting your dental health and help provide treatment. In addition, I also offer custom oral appliances to help with sleep apnea.
Why Your Dentist in Katy, TX Screens for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can have lasting effects on your health. It can cause symptoms like headaches, snoring, dry mouth, and more. However, you might be wondering why, I, as a dentist in Katy, TX, might look for signs of sleep apnea. Perhaps the most obvious answer is because I care about your health and want to help you lead a happy, healthy life. However, what many of my patients don’t realize is that there are several things I can look for in your mouth that can signal the risk for sleep apnea.
When it comes to your dental exams, I look for several different signs that may indicate obstructive sleep apnea. For example, many people with sleep apnea because their tongue is large, their jaw is small, or their throat muscles become too relaxed. Any and all of these can cause your airways to become blocked during sleep. As a dentist in Katy, TX, I am perhaps the person who looks at your tongue and the back of your throat the most if you come in for your dental exams every six months as you’re supposed to. This allows me to look for these anatomical signs that you could be suffering from sleep apnea. Another reason why I screen for sleep apnea is because it can also harm your dental and oral health.
Sleep Apnea can Negatively Affect Dental Health
How does a sleep disorder impact your teeth? This may be surprising, but there are several ways sleep apnea can affect tooth and mouth health.
Sleep apnea can increase your risk for serious dental issues, including:
- Nighttime teeth grinding
- Dry mouth
Any of these dental conditions can cause issues with your teeth. That’s why, as your family dentist, I recommend seeking treatment for sleep apnea and talking to me about different options for reducing your risks for dental health issues if you have sleep apnea.
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is common among people with sleep apnea. Several studies show that sleep apnea is associated with teeth grinding, also known as sleep-related bruxism. Some believe this is actually a mechanism your body uses to wake you up when you stop breathing at night. Teeth grinding with sleep apnea may be your body’s way of forcing you to breathe, researchers are still studying the link between sleep apnea and teeth grinding.
While teeth grinding can be a sign that you may suffer from sleep apnea, not everyone who grinds their teeth suffers from sleep apnea. Also, many people who don’t have sleep apnea also grind their teeth. Generally, sleep apnea-related bruxism happens just at night.
Teeth grinding can lead to premature wear on your teeth as well as lead to tooth sensitivity and tooth decay. In addition, it may even cause chronic jaw pain or even permanent damage to the jaw joint. Patients who grind their teeth may also have a higher risk for receding gums and gum disease. As your dentist in Katy, TX, I look for these signs and symptoms and can offer recommendations to reduce the risk of tooth and jaw damage from sleep apnea-related teeth grinding.
In addition, as your family dentist I look for signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) . Those with sleep apnea may have a higher risk of TMJ, which affects the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. Some studies have found that those with two or more symptoms of sleep apnea have a 73% higher risk for TMJ.
TMJ can cause pain in the jaw, head, neck, and shoulders. You might have issues chewing or even experience toothaches. In addition, some people notice their jaw clicking or grinding and even may experience a locked jaw that won’t open or close for a period of time. I’m here to help if you believe you’re suffering from TMJ dysfunction. Your comfort and overall dental health is important to me.
Many people with sleep apnea also experience dry mouth. Why might I be concerned about dry mouth? As your dentist in Katy, TX, I worry about dry mouth because it can cause negative effects for your teeth. Dry mouth can lead to increased plaque buildup on your teeth, tooth decay, mouth sores, gingivitis, and even periodontal disease. Therefore, if you have sleep apnea, I may recommend different treatments for dry mouth to help keep your mouth and teeth healthy.
Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances from your Dentist in Katy, TX
As your dentist in Katy, TX, I can even help with sleep apnea treatment through oral appliances designed for sleep apnea. The standard treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, but an estimated 25-50% of people don’t comply with this therapy. This means that many are going without treatment for sleep apnea, which affects their overall health as well as their dental health. For those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy may be an alternative treatment option. This involves wearing a device that is similar to an orthodontic retainer or a mouth guard.
Some people prefer oral appliances for sleep apnea because they are:
- Easy to care for
Also, some patients use both a CPAP machine and an oral appliance together to help with their sleep apnea. An oral appliance for sleep apnea generally works in one of two ways. The first is pushing both your lower jaw and your tongue forward, which can help keep your airways open even when your muscles relax during sleep to help prevent pauses in breathing. The other type of appliance helps keep your tongue forward to help stop it from retreating into your airway while you sleep.
These devices may help you breathe easier while you sleep and may also help reduce snoring for those with sleep apnea. I make these special sleep apnea oral appliances to help people with sleep apnea. This involves custom fitting the appliance to your personal anatomy to help keep your airways open and help you breathe better as you sleep.
Book an Appointment with an Experienced Dentist in Katy, TX Today
Whether you’re concerned about the effects of sleep apnea on your dental health or you simply want teeth whitening services, my team and I at the Tooth Booth Dental are here to help. I specialize in many different branches of dentistry, including general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, endodontics, and more. At the Tooth Booth, we provide dental care in a warm, welcoming environment with state-of-the-art technology and tools to help you keep your smile looking and feeling good. We also offer emergency treatment when dental issues happen outside of office hours. Call us today at (832) 437-0841 to learn more about us and to schedule an appointment!