How Your Dentist Can Help With Sleep Apnea

Posted on: 31 July 2015

Around 25 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea. Sadly, it can go unnoticed for years while it interferes with your daily life. It doesn't have to be that way though. Speaking with your dentist about an oral appliance may help you sleep well for the first time in years.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Has anyone ever told you that you snore abnormally loud? You may have obstructive sleep apnea. This form of sleep apnea is caused when the soft tissues of your throat relax, obstructing the airway. This airway collapse leads to your brain realizing it isn't receiving oxygen. Then your brain will signal you to wake up, resulting in limited sleep. In addition to snoring loudly, if you have sleep apnea, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Suddenly ceasing to breathe while sleeping
  • Waking with a sore throat
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Issues paying attention
  • Being sleepy during the day

What Can Your Dentist Do To Help

If you've been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist can help. There are many oral appliances that you can wear at night to prevent the obstruction of your airway. There are many different appliance options available, but they can be divided into two groups. The first group of oral appliances function by sliding your lower jaw slightly forward to prevent obstruction of the airway. The second group of appliances works by suppressing your tongue so it can't roll back and obstruct your airway. Both types of oral appliances are worn only at night, and are similar in shape to retainers.

How You Get Fitted For A Dental Appliance

The fitting process for these dental appliances is relatively simple and involves you making an appointment with a professional dentist, like Quality Dental Care L.L.C. Your dentist will then take an impression of your mouth, which involves you biting into a putty like substance. This impression will give your dentist an exact impression of your mouth so your sleep apnea appliance will be fitted to your mouth.

Before getting fitted for your sleep appliance, it's important to note that these appliances are intended for those afflicted with mild to moderate sleep apnea. If you have severe sleep apnea, this may not be the solution for you. You may also have to go back to your dentist and have the appliance adjusted or refitted if it becomes uncomfortable. If you have a tendency to grind your teeth at night, you may have to have your appliance replaced sooner than others.