Most likely, you’ve already heard of sleep apnea. It is a chronic condition which causes people to stop breathing or breathe irregularly during their sleep.
Most of the time, visiting a sleep clinic is the best way to get a proper diagnosis and your doctor can help you develop a treatment plan to help minimize symptoms.
But, did you know that your dentist can also help reduce the effects of sleep apnea?
Keep reading below and we’ll take a better look a sleep apnea and how your dentist can help you treat the condition.
What is Sleep Apnea?
As we’ve mentioned, sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing during their sleep. The condition is characterized by two distinct types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common type. During sleep, the soft tissues in a person’s airway collapse and prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs.
On the other hand, with central sleep apnea, there is no physical disruption that prevent the body from breathing. Instead, the brain ceases to send signals to the body to breathe, causing disruptions to a person’s breathing rhythm.
Regardless of the type of sleep apnea, people with the condition often wake up feeling tired. And, when left untreated, sleep apnea can have a considerable impact on a person’s short-term and long-term health.
How Your Dentist Can Help
After being diagnosed with sleep apnea, a consultation with your dentist can help you learn more about the condition and help you understand your treatment options. In most cases, your dentist will recommend wearing an oral appliance designed to help minimize the effects of the condition.
The most common device used to treat sleep apnea are known as mandibular advancement devices. These devices look like a traditional mouth guard and work by pushing the lower part of the jaw forward. This helps tighten the muscles that collapse during sleep apnea and prevent them from blocking the airway. With time, these devices can strengthen the airway and either reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.
Another oral device is known as a tongue retainer. These work by holding your tongue in a forward position, therefore preventing it from falling backwards and blocking the airway.
Your dentist will work closely with you to ensure that the oral appliance is helping and improving your symptoms. Initially, the appliance may feel slightly uncomfortable, however, most users become accustom to is after a few days as it begins to improve their sleep.
Benefits of Oral Sleep Apnea Devices
Oral devices used for sleep apnea are excellent for people newly diagnosed with the condition. They are more affordable than CPAP machines (also used to treat sleep apnea) and have very few side effects. Furthermore, they are custom fitted to each patient, which means that they are relatively comfortable to wear at night.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, be sure to make an appointment with your Bay Shore NY dentist to discuss your options and find a treatment that is suitable for you.