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What signs of sleep apnea are obvious to dentists?

Some people experience the unfortunate symptoms of sleep apnea without realizing that there is a cause. Your Burnaby dentist might be able to help spot the signs that you are experiencing sleep apnea during your routine visit and suggest that you follow up with your physician for diagnosis.

Waking up exhausted after a full night's sleep is the most common symptom reported by those suffering from sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea can damage your teeth, your dentist may be the first to notice the symptoms and inform you of them.

A person with sleep apnea has frequent breathing interruptions while trying to sleep. These pauses could be caused by a lack of respiratory effort, a physical obstruction of airflow, or a combination of the two. These pauses can vary greatly in length and frequency.

The Obvious Signs Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can have an effect on your oral health. Your dentist may notice these common signs during your routine exam:

  • Receding or inflamed gums 
  • Tongue with scalloped edges 
  • Worn tooth surfaces 
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism), which may cause wear and breakage 
  • Spike in cavities due to damage to teeth as a result of grinding 
  • Redness in the throat (caused by excessive snoring) 

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep disorder. The cause of OSA is a physical restriction in airflow while sleeping. OSA symptoms include choking or gasping while sleeping, frequent nighttime awakenings, night sweats, morning headaches, loud snoring, high blood pressure, and dry mouth.

A person who is experiencing these symptoms may spend the day feeling exhausted despite having slept a full night. Sleep apnea has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

What Steps Will My Dentist Take If They Spot The Signs Of Sleep Apnea?

A dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea. However, because your jaw and related structures can contribute to OSA, they are often the first people to notice symptoms or tell you if you are at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Your dentist can examine your teeth and take X-rays of your mouth and neck to look for abnormally large throat tissues or other airway obstructions. If any physical impediments are discovered, they will refer you to your doctor or a specialist.

Are you in need of a routine exam or opinion on symptoms that you are experiencing? Contact our Burnaby dentists today to schedule an appointment.

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