The Connection between Sleep Apnea and Oral Health

The Connection between Sleep Apnea and Oral Health

Feb 01, 2022

At some point in life, you may struggle with sleeplessness and snoring. This may stop without the need for intervention from an expert. However, when your sleep issues cause you to grind your teeth, you need professional help. The dentist Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, works with patients who have sleep disorders affecting oral health.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related sleep disorder characterized by diminished oxygenation. It occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax, blocking the airway. The condition causes a person to start and stop breathing while asleep repeatedly.

The condition occurs when muscles in the back of your throat become too relaxed to allow normal breathing. As a result, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. This affects your breathing for several seconds. As a result, oxygen levels in your blood drop, and carbon dioxide builds up. The brain senses the lapse in breathing and wakes you up briefly so that you can reopen the airway.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea treatment near you involves looking out for the signs and symptoms below.

  • An observed episode of interrupted breathing during sleep
  • Loud snoring
  • Morning headache
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by choking or gasping
  • Decreased libido
  • Depression and irritability
  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth

Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding

Grinding your teeth when asleep is known as sleep bruxism. Research shows that many people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are prone to grind their teeth in their sleep. So when dental experts notice some symptoms of bruxism, they may want to know about your sleeping patterns.

Some researchers believe that when you are roused from sleep due to a blocked airway, your body perceives some stress. In response, jaw muscle activity increases, causing you to grind your teeth. Others think that your jaw muscles send messages to your brain when you grind your teeth at night. Your brain instructs you to wake up and take a breath.

If your dentist discovers a problem with sleep bruxism, you may need an overnight sleep study to verify that you have OSA. In addition, the dentist may refer you to a sleep specialist for observation and treatment. Some dentists work together with the patient’s primary caregiver to treat both conditions at once.

Risk factors for a combination of sleep apnea and teeth grinding include:

  • People with a long neck or a large collar
  • Individuals with depression or anxiety
  • Kids with learning disabilities such as ADHD
  • Adults who were not breastfed as infants
  • Petite women
  • Overweight people
  • Those with uncontrolled blood pressure
  • Smokers
  • Individuals with a family history of OSA
  • People with a short lower jaw compared to the upper jaw
  • Adults with a large tongue that can block the airway

Diagnosis for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Bruxism

Sleep apnea treatment in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, is coordinated between the dentist and sleep experts. Both of them will seek a connection between your sleep apnea and bruxism. The experts may look for oral health signs of sleep apnea. They check your blood pressure and ask about your concentration, alertness, or fatigue during the day.

Your dentist 92688 will check for signs of bruxism, such as

  1. Worn tooth surfaces
  2. Tooth breakage
  3. Tooth pain and sensitivity
  4. Dull headache originating from the temples
  5. Sleep disruption
  6. Tired, tight, or locked jaw muscles
  7. Receding gums
  8. Cavities
  9. Locked jaw


Both conditions can be successfully treated through positive airway pressure therapy. In addition, your dentist may custom-make a mouth guard to hold your tongue and lower the jaw forward. The device is designed to prevent airway obstruction that affects your sleep. Your mouthguard will also be strong enough to stop teeth damage caused by teeth grinding.

During sleep apnea treatment at Jordan and Pham Dentistry, the cosmetic dentist near me may recommend some changes in lifestyle habits. Besides, the dentist will advise you to be proactive about your sleep habits and overall health. For example, you may require losing weight, stopping smoking, and having nasal allergy treatment.

949-888-5665 Request Appointment