Skip to Main Content

Important message regarding appointments and safety measures.

Learn More

How can sleep apnea become life-threatening?

While you may know that sleep apnea can prevent you from feeling rested in the morning are you also aware that it can cause other potentially serious health concerns? Today, our Burnaby dentists talk about what sleep apnea is, how it occurs and how it can affect your overall health.

What happens when you experience sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep-related breathing disorder that can cause a person to repeatedly stop breathing for short periods of time over the course of the night while they're asleep. In the cases that are more extreme, patients can be noted to stop breathing as many as 30 times throughout the entire night.

While there are different types of sleep apnea, the most common type is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by an obstruction of the airway while sleeping. Snoring is one of the most, if not most, common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Other common symptoms include being overly tired, waking up by gasping or choking, a dry mouth in the morning, a sore throat in the morning, and morning headaches.

This condition can have a negative effect on many parts of you not just on your oral health but also on your overall health as well.

How can sleep apnea affect your oral health?

Sleep apnea can cause numerous oral health issues. For example, when a patient has sleep apnea, breathing through their mouth all night can cause dry mouth. This can result in bad breath and increased plaque buildup, putting patients at risk for gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease.

Sleep apnea can also cause: 

  • Teeth grinding (which may cause wear and breakage)
  • Worn tooth surfaces 
  • Increased cavities 
  • Mouth sores
  • Tongue with scalloped edges 

In what ways can suffering from sleep apnea affect your overall health?

Sleep apnea is known to lower patients' oxygen levels. When this occurs, your body reacts instinctively by increasing your heart rate and narrowing your arteries.This can result in a variety of cardiac complications, such as high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, increased inflammation, and heart stress.

Some of the serious conditions that could result from sleep apnea are:

  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack 
  • Asthma
  • COPD

Because sleep apnea causes these other serious conditions, it’s very important for you to contact your dentist immediately if you notice any symptoms. By contacting your dentist, you can receive the appropriate testing and diagnosis quickly to begin managing the effects as early as possible.

Are there ways that you can manage the effects of sleep apnea?

Dentists are often the first medical professionals to notice sleep apnea because of the common effects it has on oral health, despite the fact that they are unable to diagnose the condition.

If your dentist notices any of the common signs of sleep apnea during your routine dental visit, they will recommend your visit your doctor for an examination and diagnosis. 

Some dental offices also provide dental appliances that can be used to help keep your airway open while you sleep and alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. 

NoteThis article is for informational purposes only. North Burnaby Dental Group does not offer sleep apnea treatment at this time.

Do you have questions about what to do if you are experiencing the signs of sleep apnea? Contact our Burnaby dentists today to book a consultation.

Welcoming New Patients

North Burnaby Dental Group is accepting new patients! Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

Contact Us

(604) 291-6696 Contact