OVER 18 MILLION ADULTS in the US alone, as well as up to 20 percent of habitually snoring children, have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that results in brief but repeated interruptions of normal breathing during sleep. Not only is this a potentially life-threatening disorder, but it also has a significant impact on oral health.
The Three Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can be described as Obstructive, Central, or Mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep apnea disorder and is the result of a blockage in the airway, typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which in turn collapses against the back of the throat, closing off the airway. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles of the respiratory system to keep breathing. Mixed (or complex) sleep apnea is a combination of both.
Each time breathing is interrupted, the brain causes the person with this sleep apnea to wake up and take a breath. It happens so quickly that it’s usually not remembered, but these interruptions severely impact the overall quality of sleep, as they can happen as often as hundreds of times in a single night.
What Does Sleep Apnea Have to Do With Oral Health?
In addition to leaving you with all the usual symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and morning headaches, this disorder has a number of effects on oral health. There is a significant association between OSA and moderate-to-severe periodontitis (gum disease), but the most common oral complications are Bruxism (teeth grinding) and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD).
Studies have shown that the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from becoming blocked when the throat relaxes during a sleep apnea episode. Bruxism and TMD lead to problems like worn, cracked, or broken teeth, pain when chewing, chronic headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.
How Dr. Burman Can Help?
With his dental background, long-time laser use, and extensive study in the area of sleep-related breathing disorders, Dr. Steven Burman, Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, can help patients find relief with laser photobiomodulation of the TMJ and associated musculature. Also, he can fabricate a custom oral appliance therapy to treat OSA and help patients achieve a healthier nights’ sleep.
Healthier Sleep For Healthier Smiles
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, there’s no reason to continue living with interrupted sleep and the health problems associated with sleep apnea. Give us a call to schedule a consultation appointment so that we can screen you for sleep apnea and help get you on the path to more restful sleep and better oral health. You can also visit one of our business pages to learn more about us. Take a look at the map for directions before you head our way.