Sleep Apnea and Dental Health 

Sleep apnea, dental health and how your dentist can help select a treatment plan that works.  Sleep apnea does more than disturb sleep.  It negatively impacts your energy level, concentration, oral and overall health.

According to the Sleep Apnea Organization approximately 22 million Americans are affected by the condition with only one in five having been formally diagnosed. 

Sleep apnea and Dental Health image of two cartoon heads, one with a clear airway and one with a blocked airway.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway narrows or is blocked during sleep. This causes a cycle of sleep interruption and abnormal breathing. Studies show that this cycle may harm the parts of the brain that control feeling awake or sleepy.

Why Does It Wake Me Up?

When your airway becomes blocked during sleep and your body doesn’t get the required amount of oxygen, the brain sends a startle response and even though you don’t wake, your body does. This allows the muscles in your throat to contract and air to pass.  

This cycle can happen as often as every 30 minutes, never letting your body fall into that deep, regenerating sleep.  

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Waking suddenly from choking or gasping
  • Waking with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Feeling tired even after a full 8 hours of sleep

How Can My Dentist Help?

Breathing issues are often difficult to diagnose. The main reason for this is that people aren’t aware of what is actually causing the problem, they’re only aware of the symptoms. 

This puts dentists in a unique position to diagnose airway issues. A general practitioner may not have any reason to pay particular attention to your airway, whereas a dentist has far more opportunities to check up on it. Choosing a dentist trained to identify and diagnose airway issues could save you from a whole host of health issues that may otherwise go undiagnosed. Two issues of particular interest to highly trained and qualified dentists are sleep apnea and mouth breathing.

Untreated sleep apnea can damage overall health in a number of ways. It causes a drop in blood oxygen levels during the night, which disrupts the natural REM cycle of the sleeping brain. Sufferers of sleep apnea can feel unfocused and have low energy levels. It is even speculated that some childhood ADHD diagnoses are actually misdiagnosed sleep apnea. It can exacerbate cardiovascular disease, leading to heart attack or stroke. It can contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression, and even car accidents due to drowsiness. What’s more, it can do all this without the sufferer even being aware of the condition, as they typically will not wake during the apneas.

If you have any of the above symptoms please contact (505) 293-7611 to schedule your New Patient Experience with Dr. Abeyta.  She can help you find the right treatment for your sleep disorder.  

“Life is full of new beginnings, and a new day tomorrow brings, sleep well.” Catherine Pulsifer