How Do Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea and Other Breathing Issues?

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How Do Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea and Other Breathing Issues?

Sleep-Related Breathing Issues: Are They Dangerous?

Sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea, is a condition that obstructs or restricts a person’s normal breathing during sleep. It is needless to say that sleep apnea disrupts a good night’s rest. 

But it does more than just that, and if left untreated, it poses serious health concerns. For instance, untreated sleep apnea has the potential to increase the chance of heart attack or sudden death by 30 percent within a period of four to five years. 

Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of heart diseases and cardiovascular complications, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and blood clots. Untreated sleep apnea has also been connected to stroke, increasing the likelihood of stroke by two or three times

Obviously, the dangers of untreated sleep apnea are crystal clear. Although it is most popular among older and obese men, it can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. But the good news is that no matter your age or how long you’ve been experiencing sleep apnea, the condition is treatable.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

At the basic level, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat, which support the soft palate, relax to the point where they narrow your airways and make it difficult for you to get enough air as you sleep. 

This series of events reduces the oxygen level in your blood and triggers your brain to compensate for the oxygen deficiency by making you snort, choke, or even gasp in an attempt to open your airways. In most cases, the major risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity, having naturally narrow airways, alcohol use, age, tobacco use, nasal congestion, neck circumference, and more.

The Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Oral Health

Poor sleep quality factors have a direct correlation to oral health. Three major oral health concerns have been linked to sleep apnea: TMJ disorder, bruxism, and mouth breathing. 

Simply put, bruxism refers to teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Both are major conditions causing progressive and unnoticeable wearing down of the teeth. Apart from that, these actions happen unconsciously and are the leading causes of jaw pain and facial pain. The TMJ is a joint which connects your upper and lower jaw. It can become inflamed and can lock down the jaw if left untreated. 

Lastly, instead of breathing through the nose, sleep apnea causes sufferers to breathe through their mouths. This can contribute to dry mouth, periodontal diseases, and tooth decay.

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

The diagnosis of sleep apnea begins with an initial evaluation based on your signs and symptoms by your dentist and a medical doctor. The evaluation involves an examination of the back of your throat, nose, and mouth for anomalies. On some occasions, your neck circumference is measured and blood pressure is taken. 

This may be followed by additional evaluations involving tests such as polysomnography to monitor your brain’s activity, lung action such as breathing patterns, and certain movements of arms and legs during sleep. 

The Role Dentists Play in Sleep Apnea and Other Breathing Issues

Dentists play a major role in the recognition and diagnosis of sleep apnea. Dentists understand oral anatomy more than any other healthcare professional. They are equipped with the right knowledge to identify oral and cranial anomalies that may be affecting your sleep pattern

Your dentist can provide you with an oral appliance that will keep your airway open and enable you to sleep better. This will also include continuous monitoring and evaluation till you’re able to sleep better and more comfortably.

the major benefits of oral appliances for sleep apnea

The Major Benefits of Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treating obstructive sleep apnea requires oral appliance therapy or a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. However, oral appliances and mouth guards have been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for treating sleep-breathing problems. 

Here are the benefits of oral appliances in sleep apnea treatment:

Easy to Use

Oral appliances such as Somnomed Avant appliances are small, portable, and easy to use. The device facilitates compliance and faster treatment of sleep apnea.

Convenient to use

A CPAP machine is not easy to use. Most people still using it find it difficult to carry with them when they are traveling due to its heavy weight. The Somnomed Avant oral appliance, on the other hand, is lightweight and minimizes discomfort. Oral appliances can be customized to fit your jaw, tongue, and airway allowing for more convenient and personalized treatment.

Non-invasive

Treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders with oral appliances does not require surgery. The Somnomed Avant oral appliance is ready to use, easy to wear, and does not require much effort to operate.

Better than CPAP machine

A CPAP is heavy and not as convenient to use as oral appliances. In fact, evidence has shown that about 50% of people with sleep apnea who use CPAP machines do not comply with it. With oral appliances, patients just need to wear it like a mouthguard and enjoy the benefits it offers for treating sleep apnea. Additionally, it produces no noise, and you can easily travel with it compared to the CPAP.

Treats sleep apnea and sleep-related breathing disorders effectively

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea. Treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders improves patients’ quality of life dramatically, making them sleep better at night and providing them with more energy during the day.

Rose Family Dentistry offers somnomed oral appliances for sleep apnea in Graham NC

Sleep apnea can affect your health in many ways. Do not allow sleep-related breathing problems to affect your mental and physical health. If you’re concerned you have sleep apnea, feel free to schedule an appointment with our dentist at Rose Family Dentistry to discuss treatment options for sleep apnea in Graham, NC.

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