Obstructive Sleep Apnea: How Can A Dentist Help You?

If your primary doctor diagnoses you with obstructive sleep apnea, you'll need to receive the right treatment to protect your health. One of the specialists you can see for treatment is a dentist. Although obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder or condition, it can affect your dental health over time. Here's how obstructive sleep apnea affects your dental health and what a dentist can do to help you treat it.

How Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affect You?

Sleep apnea develops when the tissues in your throat collapse and prevent oxygen from reaching your lungs. In order to keep your airways open, your jaw may instinctively close or clamp down. Over time, the clamping of your jaw causes a host of dental problems, including joint pain

Your lower jaw relies on two small hinge joints to open and close. Although the joints are strong, they can wear down from overuse. The wear and tear eventually causes temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. TMJ doesn't relieve itself without the appropriate dental treatment. In most cases, temporomandibular joint disorder can become worse or lead to other dental issues, including cracked teeth and headaches.

You can find some relief from your condition by seeing a dentist for care. 

How Can a Dentist Help You?

A dentist will generally examine your teeth and jaw to see how much damage they sustained from your sleep disorder and TMJ. If your teeth crowns appear damaged from your ordeal, a dentist will repair them. In order to treat your TMJ disorder, a dentist will need to address your obstructive sleep apnea problem.

You may need to wear an oral appliance at night. The appliance is designed to reposition your lower jaw so that it stays relaxed during the night. The sleep apnea appliance also keeps your throat and nasal passages open, which allows you to breathe properly.

If the appliance doesn't solve your issues, a dentist may have you use a breathing apparatus called a CPAP machine. The device works by sending a constant flow of oxygen (air) into your lungs during the night. A dentist may also send you to a sleep center during the initial stages of your treatment. A center can monitor your breathing patterns and other vital signs to see if the machine is working properly for you. 

If you have concerns about obstructive sleep apnea or its effects on your dental health, contact a dentist for an exam and treatment today.