Regularly brushing your teeth, flossing daily, and limiting your intake of sugary foods can all play a role in preventing gum disease. But did you know that your sleep patterns can also affect your oral health? This blog post discusses the startling connection between sleep apnea and gum disease. It also touches on how you can improve your nightly rest and protect your smile from harm.
Sleep Apnea and Gum Disease: Understanding the Connection
Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue. It occurs when harmful bacteria are allowed to accumulate in the mouth. A number of factors can play a role in its development, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA is a common disorder that is characterized by multiple pauses in breathing throughout the night. Often, OSA sufferers snore loudly and breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. Prolonged mouth breathing causes the oral cavity to dry out. Without enough saliva to rinse them away, bacteria find it much easier to accumulate and multiply in the mouth. Eventually, they can sneak their way into the gum tissue and cause an infection.
A second way in which OSA can increase the risk of gum disease relates to teeth grinding and clenching (also known as bruxism). Bruxism exerts pressure on the teeth, which can damage the gums over time. Pockets may form between the teeth and the gum tissue, and bacteria can easily thrive in those spaces.
Sleep Apnea and Gum Disease Are a Dangerous Combination
In its initial stages, gum disease is mild and does not cause a lot of obvious symptoms. If it remains untreated, however, it can prove devastating to your smile. In fact, it is a leading cause of tooth loss among adults. It is also associated with a heightened risk of systemic health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, and more.
Sleep apnea is also strongly associated with heart and circulatory problems. When combined with gum disease, it can be a particularly severe threat to your overall wellness.
Improving Your Sleep and Protecting Your Smile
Here are a few things you can do to treat OSA and protect your oral health:
- Seek OSA treatment. Many people have found that a custom oral appliance from a dentist is the ideal way to enjoy higher-quality rest.
- See your general dentist regularly. Attending a cleaning and checkup every six months can allow you to stay on top of your gum health.
- Eat a balanced diet. A healthful diet can play a big role in weight management, which in turn may lower your risk of OSA. Smart food choices can also support oral health.
Gum disease and obstructive sleep apnea frequently go hand in hand. Caring for your mouth and improving the quality of your nightly rest can do much to protect your overall health.
Meet the Sleep Apnea Expert
Dr. Mitch Conditt first became interested in sleep dentistry in 2009. Since then, he has helped countless patients in the Fort Worth area to enjoy higher-quality rest via oral appliance therapy. If you would like to learn how he and our team may be able to serve you, contact us at 817-527-8500.