Sleep Apnea and Your Oral Health | Glen Burnie Sleep Apnea Treatment

Several sleep disorders, including insomnia and snoring, are associated with sleep apnea. Oral health problems can be caused by sleep apnea and vice versa. This article examines the relationship between sleep apnea and your oral health.

What is sleep apnea?

A new study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 25 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. During sleep, breathing interruptions are a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the soft tissues of the airway collapse due to large tongues, obesity, and other factors. As a result of apnea, the lungs do not receive oxygen.

Sleep apnea disrupts the sleep cycle, causing daytime weakness, fatigue, and poor mental performance and has long-term health consequences. If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in oxygen deprivation, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

The connection to oral health

Sleep is essential for general well-being, preventing bad breath, mouth ulcers, and periodontitis. Sleep apnea is associated with oral issues such as TMJ disorder, bruxism, and mouth breathing.


A connection exists between sleep apnea and disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The upper and lower jaws are connected by the TMJ. There are two TMJs on each side of the face, one on each side. TMJ disorder can cause jaw pain, locked jaws, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, and chewing issues.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Dental Research found that people suffering from sleep apnea are also three times more likely to suffer from TMJ disorder. Furthermore, regardless of race, age, weight, or smoking habits, patients who showed signs of sleep apnea had a 73 percent higher risk of having TMJ issues.


The term bruxism refers to tooth grinding or jaw clenching. It is common for people to engage in this habit subconsciously while sleeping, although it can occur at any time. You may wake up feeling tired with headaches and jaw pain if you suffer from bruxism. According to the Journal of Oral and Facial Pain and Headache, 31 percent of adults have bruxism, and about a quarter have sleep apnea.

Due to the involuntary and uncontrolled movements of the jaw while sleeping, bruxism is categorized as a sleep-related problem. It is possible that patients are not aware of the disorder, but a dentist will be able to detect the signs during a routine dental examination.

Mouth breathing

As a result of sleep apnea, a person may need to breathe through their mouth. Dry mouth contributes to tooth decay, plaque, mouth sores, and gum disease. According to research published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology, half of all sleep apnea patients suffer from periodontal disease.

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can adversely affect general wellbeing. If you are concerned that you may suffer from sleep apnea, contact your general dentist to determine the cause of your sleep problems. To help you sleep better, the dentist will discuss various treatment options.

If you are concerned you may have sleep apnea, please contact our dental office today to schedule a consultation.

Chesapeake Sleep Center
Phone: 410-729-6794
7711 Quarterfield Road, Suite C-1
Glen Burnie, MD 21061