Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can either cause or be the result of various serious dental problems. In most cases, dentists or TMJ dentists are the professionals who discover that patients have sleep apnea by noticing certain oral symptoms.
For starters, bruxism or teeth grinding is highly related to sleep apnea. According to one study, sleep apnea was identified as the biggest risk factor for bruxism during sleep. Needless to say, if a patient shows signs of bruxism, they may have undiagnosed sleep apnea. If the root cause of bruxism is not treated, the teeth may become cracked and damaged in time.
A patient with sleep apnea caused by chronic nasal obstruction may breathe through their mouth. This can lead to a crowded arch and an increasing in facial height. Additionally, the mandible may retrude while the condyle becomes displaced. While sleep apnea is more common among adults, if children appear to be breathing from the mouth, there is a possibility that they have sleep apnea. Children with sleep apnea may develop retrognathia as a result of the mouth breathing.
Sleep apnea is also known to cause temporomandibular joint dysfunction as a side effect of the condition. The condition can result in muscle pain and back pain along with the loss of REM sleep. Of course, the loss of REM sleep can make muscle pains in the TM joints and other parts of the head even worse.
Dentists play a very important role in the identification and management of obstructive sleep apnea. They can identify the signs of the condition as well as any TMJ issues that may be causing it. In reality, the majority of sleep apnea treatments are provided by dentists to correct the obstructed airway and to create the proper alignment. Various oral devices are used to correct the dental side effects and dental causes of sleep apnea. In the majority of cases, these devices help a great deal to correct the root causes of the problem and to prevent it from threatening the patient’s life.