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Smithfield Dentist Sees Link Between Sleep Disorders and Oral Health

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Snoring What could a few sleepless nights and a little snoring do to your smile? If you are living with a sleep disorder, there’s a chance that your nighttime problems could be silently destroying your oral health. Common disorders such as insomnia, sleep rhythm disorders, and especially sleep apnea can harm your systemic health and lead to serious dental complications. A Smithfield NC dentist can determine if you are at risk for the dental problems that are commonly related to sleep disorders. In fact, there is such a strong link between sleep disorders and your oral health that a large percentage of previously undiagnosed sleep disorders are uncovered during routine dental examinations.

Systemically, the poor quality of sleep and the decreased oxygen intake that many people experience due to sleep disorders can raise the risk for obesity, stroke, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure. Receiving adequate amounts of sleep and a steady flow of oxygen every night are critical in terms of your body’s ability to function properly. An untreated or undiagnosed sleep disorder can be stressful and harmful to the body, and the short- and long-term consequences can be seen in the mouth.

For example, an adult with sleep apnea may experience episodes in which breathing stops as many as 30 in an hour, continuing to interrupt the sleep pattern throughout the night. These episodes are typically caused by a blockage or an obstruction in the upper airway, causing the patient to awaken with a gasp or snoring sound in an effort to resume breathing.

Most sleep disorder sufferers are unaware of their condition but the symptoms are sometimes evident in the dental office. Dry mouth due to open-mouthed breathing could signal a night-time breathing problem. The dry tissues of the tongue and gums may appear tender and red, common signs of inflammation. Waking frequently during the night also tends to promote more frequent late-night snacking and drinking, increasing the risk for cavities and bad breath.

If a Smithfield dentist suspects that you might be suffering from a sleep disorder, it may be necessary to alter your oral hygiene regimen to include additional preventive measures and you may be referred to your physician for further testing. For more information, please call to schedule an appointment today.

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