Without a shadow of a doubt, men tend to do dental check-ups less than women. But, why is this problem? Namely, many common health problems affecting males can be early detected by a dental exam. One of these health issues is snoring, which is related to dental health and is considered one of the main signs of obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that could even lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. And, according to statistics, men are at a significantly higher risk of dying from these diseases than women.
That’s why regular dental check-ups play an important role in the early detection of many lethal conditions. Having said that, let’s see how can dental health reveal snoring and sleep disorders.
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In medical terms, snoring is the noise produced as a result of the relaxation of the muscles in the mouth and throat during sleep. But, although it doesn’t apply to all cases, snoring can actually be a sign of blocked airway during sleep which is one of the major characteristics of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep condition characterized by breathing interruptions during sleep, called apneas, which can last for up to 20 seconds. When apneas happen, or when a person is snoring, oxygen flow to the brain tissue reduces which can even lead to serious brain damage. Early signs of oxygen deprivation during sleep include brain fog, irritability, lack of concentration, behavioral and memory issues, irritability, etc.
To be diagnosed with sleep apnea, a patient must undergo a sleep test, also known as a polysomnograph. This test will assess whether or not, and how often, apneas occur during the night. If you reach a certain number of apneas, your doctor will make a sleep apnea diagnosis and provide further treatment recommendations.
Snoring Signs your Dentist Could Find
Even though it sounds surprising, dental health can tell your doctor a lot about your sleep quality and snoring. Here are some of the most common dental signs of obstructive sleep apnea:
- Previous orthodontic work
- Teeth grinding
- Crooked teeth
- Teeth sensitivity
- Tongue scalloping
- Cheek biting
- Dry mouth
In case your dentist notices any of the above-mentioned sleep apnea signs, he/ she should refer you to a sleep specialist for further testing.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep Equipment therapy is the first-line treatment for relieving sleep apnea symptoms. This therapy involves a machine that uses positive pressure to provide oxygen while asleep.
Another sleep apnea treatment option is a mandibular advancement splint (MAS) which is a special type of mouthpiece made by a dentist. It consists of an upper and lower splint that holds your jaw forward during sleep and keeps the airway open to avoid apneas and snoring.
Why is Early Detection Crucial?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to many life-threatening health conditions. That’s the reason why regular dental check-ups play a vital role in the early detection of this sleep disorder. What’s even more important, men should realize that by missing dental exams they may miss the chance of early detection of conditions they are at higher risk than women. So, to prevent complications, ensure you book your dental appointment asap.