Sleep apnea is a condition that interrupts your breathing while you sleep, causing you to wake up repeatedly throughout the night. According to The National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
Most people who have trouble sleeping don’t think of visiting their dentist — however, you may be surprised to learn that sleep apnea is directly related to your oral health. For example, one of the most common early indicators of sleep apnea is tooth grinding, also known as bruxism.
When you clench your jaw or grind your teeth overnight, your brain automatically wakes you up so you can breathe. That’s why dentists like Dr. McCoy look for worn tooth surfaces if you’re struggling to sleep. Other signs he looks for include a small jaw, a red throat, or scalloped edges on your tongue.