How Can Your Dentist Help With Sleep Apnea

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TL;DR

  • If you aren’t sleeping well because of sleep apnea, there’s a resource available that you may not have thought of: your dentist.
  • Sleep apnea is a disorder where the person stops breathing periodically during the night. In obstructive sleep apnea, soft tissues in the mouth and throat relax and fall back to block the upper airway.
  • Dentists can assess your mouth to determine whether you are a good candidate for an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea.
  • Oral appliances are an effective way for many people with mild to moderate sleep apnea to deal with the problem and reduce or eliminate symptoms.
  • Working with a dentist is crucial because devices that don’t fit properly, such as those available over the counter, may actually make the disorder worse.

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for mental and physical well being, but for many people, it’s difficult to achieve. One common reason for this is sleep apnea. If you aren’t sleeping well because of this disorder, there’s a resource available that you may not have thought of: your dentist. Here’s a look at how Savoie Family Dental can help you find relief.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder where the person stops breathing periodically during the night. In obstructive sleep apnea, this is due to a physical obstruction as the soft tissues in the mouth and throat relax and fall back to block the upper airway. The pauses usually last for a few seconds and are followed gasps, choking sounds, or snorts as the person works to start breathing again. These breathing episodes disrupt sleep because the brain partially wakes the individual to resume breathing. When this happens repeatedly during the night, it can leave you tired and increase the risk for other disorders.

How Can a Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?

A dentist probably isn’t the first professional that comes to mind if you’re suffering from sleep apnea, most people see a doctor or sleep specialist first. But a dentist can be an important part of your medical team for dealing with the sleep disorder. They can provide information about treatment options and help alleviate symptoms such as snoring and teeth grinding. Dentists can also assess your mouth to determine whether you are a good candidate for an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea.

What Oral Appliances Treat Sleep Apnea?

There are two main oral appliances used in the treatment of sleep apnea. The most common is a mandibular advancement device. This appliance looks similar to a mouthguard and pushes the lower jaw forward so that the muscles in the throat tighten and don’t collapse into the airway.

The second type of oral appliance is a tongue-retaining device. These are similar to mandibular advancement devices but are designed to hold the tongue in a forward position to help keep the airway open. Both types of appliances offer benefits to patients, including:

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Proper fit for maximum comfort
  • Active sleepers won’t get entangled in equipment or knock off appliances
  • Easier for travel

What’s the Process for Obtaining an Oral Appliance?

Patients who wish to try an oral appliance should contact our office to schedule a consultation. The dentist assesses your mouth, teeth, and jaw to determine whether you’re a good candidate for an appliance and which one is likely to work better for you. A model of your teeth is sent to a specialist who creates the appliance. You’ll then work with the dentist to achieve a proper fit for maximum comfort and the best results.

Can Oral Appliances Cure Sleep Apnea?

Oral appliances are an effective way for many people with mild to moderate sleep apnea to deal with the problem and reduce or eliminate symptoms. Over time, they may even help strengthen the muscles so that sleep apnea is reduced. Working with a dentist is crucial though because devices that don’t fit properly, such as those available over the counter, may actually make the disorder worse.

If you or one of your family members suffers from sleep apnea, contact our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Savoie. We specialize in comprehensive dental care for the entire family and would love to help you.face