If you suffer from sleep apnea, you likely want a treatment that will improve your sleep, leave you with more energy and improve your health in general. Unfortunately, some highly effective sleep apnea treatments are not appealing to patients. They often complain that wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask is just as disruptive to their sleep as the apnea is. Surgery to remove excess tissue may be another option, but patients may be reluctant to pursue such an invasive procedure.
Your dentist may not be the first healthcare provider that you think to turn to for a sleep problem, but with their extensive knowledge of structures of the jaw and oral cavity, these practitioners are actually well-suited to provide sleep apnea treatment. In fact, a dentist can design a custom-made oral appliance to reduce the structural issues that lead to apneic episodes.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse during sleep and cover up the airway opening. The patient stops breathing for a very brief period, and the amount of oxygen flowing through the body decreases. Because this happens repeatedly, the patient does not get a complete night’s worth of rest and may still feel drowsy upon waking, in addition to suffering other symptoms like frequent morning headaches or sore throats.
When a dentist designs an oral appliance to prevent sleep apnea, the goal is to eliminate the likelihood that the soft tissues can cover up the airway opening. Therefore, oral appliance therapy may hold either the jaw or the tongue in a forward position throughout the night.
Because the oral appliances are custom-fitted, they are quite comfortable and patients often forget they are even wearing the device. This improves compliance with the therapy and increases the chances of symptom relief.
Sleep apnea isn’t just a quality of life issue, either. This condition appears to be related to serious health problems, such as stroke, high blood pressure and obesity. Getting effective sleep apnea treatment can be a life-saving endeavor. First, you should confirm the diagnosis if you have sleep apnea symptoms. You can do this by completing a sleep study. Then, you can pursue treatment by setting up an evaluation at our office.