The Dental Concerns of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea


How-many-hours-ofsleep-do-you-need-1-300x300Research has shown that there is a correlation between untreated sleep apnea and a host of health problems including oral diseases. When sleep apnea goes undiagnosed and subsequently untreated, patients have a heightened risk for dental conditions like periodontal (gum disease), bruxism, TMJ disorder, and inflammatory responses that can hinder one’s ability to fight infection and recover from procedures.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an incredibly destructive condition that is capable of eroding bone and gum tissue. It is also the leading cause of tooth loss in adulthood. A chronic infection, gum disease can develop when the mouth is dry. Since patients with sleep apnea breathe through their mouths, they tend to suffer with severe dry mouth, which irritates gingival tissue.


Studies have shown that sleep apnea tends to coincide with a destructive habit known as bruxism. Normally occurring during sleep, bruxism involves the habitual grinding and clenching of teeth. Over time, bruxism will wear down tooth enamel and eventually lead to worn dentition. When tooth wear is severe, people typically require multiple restorations like dental crowns and bridges to rebuild the bite.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder, like bruxism, commonly coincides with sleep apnea. Involving the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), TMJ disorder greatly affects oral function. The TMJs and the supportive structures around them (muscles and ligaments) are responsible for all mouth movement. When the TMJs and the surrounding tissues are strained, oral function becomes impaired and in severe cases, people with TMJ dysfunction will experience an inability to open and close the mouth along with debilitating orofacial pain.

Inflammation and Longer Post-Op Recovery Times

Patients with untreated sleep apnea tend to have more inflammation. When the body produces inflammatory responses, healing after procedures takes longer. For instance, those with sleep apnea receiving dental implants will likely need longer to recover than patients who do not have sleep apnea.

Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can have devastating effects on one’s oral health and overall wellbeing. Our oral surgeons provide treatment for sleep apnea. Call us today to reserve a consultation.