September 30, 2020
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, fear of possible infection is obviously on the forefront of everybody’s minds. But did you realize that living with said fear day in and day out could also pose its own threat to your health? Recently, dental experts have seen a rise in specific oral health issues that seem to be connected to stress – and that includes problems typically linked to sleep disorders. A sleep apnea dentist can tell you more about the unseen consequences that the pandemic might be having on your body.
What Kind of Symptoms are Dentists Finding?
In this article, a New York dentist reports having seen more tooth fractures in a period of six weeks during the pandemic than she has in the last six years combined. She attributes this to increased stress causing people to clench and grind their teeth more often, especially at night. This condition, also called bruxism, puts an inordinate amount of pressure on the teeth, wearing them down faster than usual and eventually causing them to break. It should be noted that bruxism is also considered a risk factor for sleep apnea, so if you notice any signs that you might be grinding your teeth – such as frequently waking up with a sore jaw – it’s best to see the dentist as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause of the problem.
How Does Stress Affect Sleep Apnea?
Higher stress levels also means a higher chance of sleep apnea. More than half of patients diagnosed with sleep disorders tend to also suffer from some degree of depression or anxiety. In other words, the more stressed you are, the more likely it is you’ll experience harmful sleep deprivation.
What are the Consequences of Sleep Apnea?
When you’re living with sleep apnea, your nightly slumber is constantly being interrupted by cessations in breathing that force you to wake up. As a result, you’ll feel more exhausted during the day and could even drift off to sleep during work or while driving. Furthermore, you’ll be at a higher risk for a heart attack and other serious health issues. And perhaps most concerning of all during a pandemic, your immune system will be weakened as well, leaving you more vulnerable to COVID-19 as well as other infections.
So What Should You Do?
If you have any reason to think you might have sleep apnea or that you’re suffering from stress-related symptoms, you should seek help from professionals right away. A sleep apnea dentist can provide oral appliances that help keep your airway open at night and stop the teeth from touching each other. This helps protect you from both sleep apnea and bruxism while you work on getting your stress under control.
It’s important not to wait too long if you have concerns about your health. The quicker you act, the easier it will be to protect your smile and body while getting a good night’s sleep again.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Dernick has been drawn to dentistry since a very early age, and since he opened his first practice in 1980, he has become one of the most skilled and caring dentists in The Woodlands. After studying sleep dentistry, he has helped many patients overcome their sleep apnea with oral appliances. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (281) 363-2770.
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