Have you ever woken up only to find a small wet spot on your pillow next to your mouth? Or have you woken up with chapped skin at the corners of your mouth? It is possible that you were drooling in your sleep. While this issue can be a little embarrassing, it can be much more than that in some cases. It might indicate a serious health problem. Is drooling a sign of sleep apnea? Continue reading to learn the answer.
What Causes Drooling?
If you occasionally drool, there is no reason to automatically jump to the conclusion that you have sleep apnea. In many cases, this issue is nothing to worry about. It may occur when you produce extra saliva at night, or when circumstances allow saliva to escape easily.
Drooling might happen if your nose is congested, forcing you to sleep with your mouth open. It is also common among individuals who take certain medications, as well as those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
If you drool rarely, or you are fairly certain you already know why you drool, there is probably no reason for you to be alarmed. However, there is always the possibility that your drooling points to undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Drooling and OSA
OSA is a condition marked by pauses in breathing that occur repeatedly throughout the night. Those pauses happen when tissues in the throat interfere with the free flow of oxygen. Often, people with OSA cannot easily breathe through their nose at night. They sleep with their mouth open, which allows saliva to escape.
How can you determine if your drooling is a sign of OSA? Look out for these other symptoms that may indicate a problem:
- Frequent, loud snoring
- Being exhausted despite getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
- Frequent nighttime urination
How Can You Stop Drooling and OSA?
If you believe you may have OSA, you should seek an official diagnosis. Your primary care physician or another qualified doctor can help you arrange for testing.
After you are diagnosed with OSA, you can explore your treatment options. Many patients find that an oral sleep appliance is highly beneficial. This treatment involves the use of a small device worn in the mouth that slightly repositions the jaw to promote better breathing.
The appliance will be a foreign object in your mouth, so you might notice an increase in drooling at first. However, after you adapt to it, it should reduce drooling.
In some cases, drooling is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. In other cases, it points to a significant health problem. Be alert for signs of OSA so you can seek professional care if needed.
Meet the Practice
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a dentist with more than 35 years of experience. In recent times, he has devoted himself exclusively to helping patients who struggle with TMD and obstructive sleep apnea. If you are curious about your OSA treatment options, our team would be pleased to speak with you. Contact our office at 817-527-8500.