Men’s Health Month: Dental Exams & Healthy Sleep

DF2Prevention & Wellness, Routine Dentistry

According to research published in the Journal of Periodontology, women are almost twice as likely to have received regular dental checkups in the past year, scheduled the recommended treatment and had better indicators of periodontal health.

Unfortunately for men, a casual approach to dental health could lead to some serious health issues. Routine visits to the dentist not only help prevent damage to the teeth, gums and mouth, but an exam of your mouth and teeth can also detect major (dental and medical) health conditions, so that they can be proactively addressed.

For instance, sleep disordered breathing affects almost 50% of men. If left untreated, sleep disorders like sleep apnea can lead to major health conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, diabetes, depression and worsening of ADHD.

The good news is sleep disorders can often be detected and even treated at a routine dental exam. The mouth and teeth offer clues … here are some of the telltale signs that you should not ignore.

Worn Teeth

Worn or cracked teeth are often an indication of teeth grinding or bruxism.  This condition usually occurs while sleeping and is frequently linked to sleep apnea. Nearly one in four people with obstructive sleep apnea grind their teeth at night.

Enlarged Tonsils

Large tonsils are often a cause of obstructed breathing and
snoring. A simple routine dental exam can determine if your tonsils are larger
than normal and may be the first indication of a sleep disorder.

“It’s hard to overstate the value of a great dentist. Dr. Tonelli improved my quality of life and, possibly saved my life, with a simple visual exam. Even after religiously having annual physicals, Dr. Tonelli was the only professional to identify that I had a high risk of having sleep apnea due to my enlarged tonsils. Well, one primary care doctor visit, a visit to a throat specialist, a sleep study, a diagnosis of “severe obstructive sleep apnea” and a visit to a sleep specialist later, I am now the proud owner of a CPAP machine, experiencing the most restful sleep I’ve had in a very long time, and feeling energized all day long without the help of caffeine. My wife is just as thankful for Dr. Tonelli as I am, since now she can also get a good night’s sleep. A tradition of dental excellence, indeed!”

-R.D., patient

Repeated Cavities

Mouth breathing is common among those suffering from sleep apnea. While breathing through your mouth may sound harmless, this habit can lead to a dry mouth and a decrease in saliva, which helps to wash away food debris and reduce plaque. Less saliva also means higher levels of acidity in your mouth, an environment that’s beneficial for the growth of bacteria — increasing your likelihood for cavities.

In honor of June Men’s Health Month, please make an appointment for a routine dental exam for yourself or the special man in your life. Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but there are so many treatment benefits –including controlled risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and memory loss, plus increased energy.

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