Category: Author: Roz Walker
While giving you a routine dental exam, we might be able to tell you about your sleeping habits.
A recent study found the size of your tonsils may indicate your risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep due to block upper airways.
And the presence of teeth imprints on your tongue suggests it’s too big for your mouth, also a sign of possible OSA.
Who is affected by sleep apnea?
More than 18 million adults report having trouble sleeping due to sleep apnea. This condition causes snoring, fragmented sleep, and low blood oxygen levels, leading to drowsiness, poor memory, irritability, and mood problems.
For those with more severe cases, OSA can lead to depression, hypertension, congestive heart failure, heart disease or stroke.
The link between your tonsils and your sleeping habits
In conducting their study, researchers examined 200 patients in clinics at the University of Dammam College of Dentistry in Saudi Arabia. Patients completed a special screening assessment for OSA.
Researchers also screened patients for known and potential OSA factors, including blood pressure, body weight, neck circumference and the size of their uvula, tonsils and tongue.
The study concluded that 23 percent of the 200 participants were at risk for OSA. The most common factors found among this high risk group were obesity, tongue indentations, and large tonsils.
How your dentist can help
If you thought your sleeping habits were of no concern to your dentist, think again. We can play an important role in identifying sleep apnea.
We see into your mouth more often than physicians do and the signs of sleep apnea are easy to identify. While we aren’t able to formally diagnose OSA in our patients, we can screen for it and potentially keep many cases from going undiagnosed.
If you are having trouble sleeping, be sure to mention it to your physician. We can also support your physician by checking your oral health during your next routine dental exam.
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants.