Obstructive sleep apnea refers to a disorder in which the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxes and collapses as a person sleeps. This results in a brief blockage of the airway and a short cessation of breathing.
While not acutely life-threatening, sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues if it continues without treatment. You might see a decline in cognitive function as well as a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems.
Your general practitioner can treat sleep disorders, but mild cases of sleep apnea can improve with assistance from your dentist. Read on to learn more about obstructive sleep apnea and how your dentist can help you manage related symptoms.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
Because sleep apnea airway blockages occur when you sleep, you might not always know you have this disorder. Your partner might notice you briefly stop breathing intermittently during sleep. But you can notice some signs that you have this problem as well.
If you wake up feeling groggy, this can happen due to low quality of sleep, and those with sleep apnea can experience this. People with sleep apnea may also gasp awake during the night. They can also notice dry mouth when they wake up due to mouth breathing as they sleep.
Some people have a higher chance of developing sleep apnea. Certain risk factors include prior health issues like asthma or chronic nasal congestion, high blood pressure, family history, smoking, and being overweight. If these symptoms sound familiar, talk to your doctor or your dentist about treating obstructive sleep apnea.
How Can My Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?
Your doctor often treats sleep apnea using a CPAP machine, a device that forces air into your nasal passages through a mask worn during sleep. This is an effective way to prevent blocked airways. But not all patients find this machine comfortable or easy to use.
A dentist can provide a way to treat mild instances of sleep apnea that can help patients better comply with treatment. This is beneficial because patients who do not treat their sleep apnea can have a greater chance of forming health problems.
Dentists can give their patients custom-made night guards to wear as they sleep. These oral appliances will keep the jaw in a position of rest that will prevent the tissue at the back of the throat from collapsing. This stops sleep apnea and therefore protects the patient’s overall well-being.
The individualized construction of these appliances ensures they feel comfortable in the mouth as well as secure. You will not have to worry about them slipping out of place during sleep. Nor will you have concerns that it will disrupt your sleep schedule.
Call your dentist today to learn if this treatment will help you resolve your obstructive sleep apnea. They can evaluate your airway and dental structure to determine if this device will work for your unique needs.