What Your Dentist Knows About Your Sleep Apnea Problem

11 October 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

When you think of sleep apnea, you probably think about your primary care doctor, or maybe even a sleep specialist. What you probably don't think of, however, is your dentist. In fact, you might be surprised to discover that your dentist is just as valuable a resource when it comes to sleep apnea symptoms and potential issues. In fact, just as an optometrist can sometimes be the first to detect signs of diabetes, your dentist can be the first one to spot the indications of sleep apnea. Here's a look at some of the signs that your dentist may watch for that could indicate a need for sleep apnea treatment.

Weak, Worn Teeth

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is grinding your teeth. This action wears down the enamel on your teeth and makes them weaker and more vulnerable to damage. While weak tooth enamel can happen for a variety of reasons, if it appears in combination with other symptoms, that's a cause for concern about sleep apnea.

Scalloping On Your Tongue

The tongue often plays an instrumental role in airway blockage for those with sleep apnea. Over time, the edges of the tongue can wear against the teeth and other areas, causing scalloping on the edges. Your dentist may suggest that you speak to a healthcare provider about sleep apnea testing if he or she sees ripples or scalloping on the edges of your tongue.

Redness And Irritation In Your Throat

Snoring is a fundamental symptom of sleep apnea, and with apnea, that snoring is aggressive. It can cause irritation in your throat, which you've probably noticed if you've ever woken up with a sore throat after a night's sleep. Your dentist will likely be among the first to notice the redness inside your throat that's indicative of heavy snoring and the likelihood of apnea.

Smaller Jaw

Those with a smaller jaw are often more likely to have sleep apnea, so your dentist might be more attentive to the possible signs of sleep apnea symptoms if your jaw is on the smaller side. The reason for this connection is that the clenching of your jaw, which happens with sleep apnea, will often cause your jaw to shrink. Your dentist will advise that you talk with your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea, especially if you have additional symptoms with a smaller jaw.

These are just a few of the things that your dentist will be watching for when it comes to the signs of sleep apnea. Talk with your dentist and your medical care provider if you have any cause for concern.