If you snore – and particularly if you have a partner that snores, you know all too well how much of a nuisance this common problem can be. What you may not know, however, is that there is quite a strong correlation between snoring and a person’s oral health. Dr. Jeffrey Allred and the expert team at Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA are highly experienced in the connection between oral health and snoring, the impact each can have on the other, and the options available to treat and correct many of the oral issues that arise from snoring.
In order to fully understand how snoring can cause dental problems and vice versa, it is important to first establish a few basics:
What exactly is snoring?
We are all familiar with the distinct and usually unpleasant sound of snoring. While there are many underlying causes of snoring, the technical explanation is that the airway is partially blocked in one way or another. As a natural part of sleeping, the soft palate muscles in the roof of the mouth relax. In some men and women, these muscles relax more than normal, causing a partial obstruction of the airway. When the air flows in and out of the narrowed throat passage, the vibration produces the snoring sound.
Who is at risk for snoring?
Unfortunately snoring can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, or other factors. Since there are so many different causes of snoring, it is a fairly widespread issue that affects an estimated 75% of men, women, and children in America. Some risk factors that increase your chances of snoring include:
- Nasal congestion
- Enlarged tonsils/adenoids (usually in children)
- Physical/anatomic abnormalities
- Alcohol and tobacco use
In all of the above conditions, either relaxation of the soft palate muscles and/or anatomic narrowing of the airway cause an obstructed airflow, leading to snoring. In general, men over the age of 40 make up the largest group of people who snore.
Is there a connection between snoring and teeth?
Believe it or not, snoring can have a significant impact on your oral health. Likewise, your teeth and overall dental structure can also influence the likelihood that you will or won’t snore. If you think your snoring and dental health may be related, call the qualified and knowledgeable team at Allred Dental today. During your initial consultation, Dr. Allred will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth, looking for some of the most common signs of snoring which include tooth wear, a smaller-than-normal jaw, throat redness, and other issues. Most patients are surprised to learn that their dentists are often the first ones to diagnose a sleep disorder causing snoring by recognizing these early oral signs.
What is the relationship between sleep apnea and oral health?
Arguably the most common sleep disorder among Americans, sleep apnea can be a serious condition, in some cases leading to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and more. Sleep apnea is also typically accompanied by snoring. One of the first signs of sleep apnea is often excessive grinding of the teeth during sleep, formally known as bruxism. During an examination by a qualified and experienced dentist, the physical signs of clenching and grinding can be identified. With this information, a potential sleep apnea diagnosis can be explored, leading to an explanation and possible treatment plan for their snoring.
Can snoring cause oral health problems?
In addition to the health risks posed by sleep disorders including sleep apnea, the act of snoring itself can lead to a host of oral health issues. When a person snores, their mouth remains open for an extended period of time, leading to an excessively dry mouth. The saliva in our mouths performs many beneficial functions that are essential to our oral health, including:
• Washing dead cells from the oral tissues
• Slowing the growth of harmful bacteria
• Combating burning and dryness of the oral cavity
When dry mouth, known as xerostomia, occurs as a result of snoring, patients can experience gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath (halitosis), infections, mouth sores, and many other problems with their teeth and oral tissues.
What can I do to prevent snoring from impacting my oral health?
If you think your snoring may be negatively affecting your oral health, the most important thing you can do is be evaluated by a reputable and experienced dentist. In addition to being a Diplomat of the American Board of Oral Implantology, Dr. Jeffrey Allred is also a leader in the field of general dentistry and sleep-related oral issues in San Marcos, CA. Dr. Allred and his team are committed to providing the highest level of patient care and will take all of the time necessary to thoroughly evaluate your case, discuss your goals, explain procedures and treatment options in detail, answer all of your questions, and recommend a course of action that best meets your needs.
Call our office to schedule your consultation today, and learn more about how your snoring may be affecting your oral health and how we can help you!