If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your doctor may give you the option of picking oral appliance therapy to treat it. Oral appliances have become more popular because they are effective in treating sleep apnea and snoring. Worn only when a person is sleeping, a dental device fits in the mouth like an orthodontic…
Can a General Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?
Did you know that a general dentist can help you to put sleep apnea behind you? Sleep apnea is a condition that leads to your sleep being disrupted due to interruptions to your breathing. Some people only have a few of these disturbances each night, while others can have hundreds of them in one night.
The result is diminished sleep quality and feeling fatigued during the day. This leaves you vulnerable to a variety of physical and mental health conditions like heart disease and dementia.
How a dentist can help with sleep apnea
A general dentist is a great person to talk to when dealing with sleep apnea. Dentists work often with patients with the condition and they can help with making a customized appliance that keeps the patient’s tongue or jaw in the right position during sleep, improving the quality of their sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is typically caused by the patient’s airway being blocked during sleep. This can be the result of fatty tissues in the airway restricting breathing, the tongue falling back into the throat blocking the airway, or the jaw being in an improper position. A customized sleep apnea appliance can be an effective way to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea.
How oral appliances are used to treat sleep apnea
Using oral appliances to treat sleep apnea requires patients to sleep with a special device in their mouth. The appliance looks a lot like the mouth-guards used for sports or the night-guards used to protect teeth against grinding.
Each patient gets a customized appliance that fits their mouth well. The dentist ensures this by taking an impression of the patient’s mouth. This is typically done by having them bite down on a mold. The impression is sent to a dental lab where oral appliances are made. It takes about two weeks for the finished appliance to get back to the dentist.
Once it is ready, the patient comes in for a second appointment. The dentist shows the patient how to wear their appliance and instructs them on how to clean it. With sleep apnea appliances, patients get to enjoy improved sleep quality as soon as they start using an appliance.
Oral appliances are not the only devices used to treat sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines can help with more severe cases of sleep apnea. The machine works by gently pushing air into the patient’s airway, preventing obstacles from blocking the flow of air. The patient goes to bed with a mask over their face at night. It can take some time to get used to wearing the mask and to the sounds made by the machine.
Sleep apnea can also be addressed by making lifestyle changes like:
- Stop smoking. Nicotine smoke leads to inflammation of the airways which restricts airflow
- Lose weight. Sleep apnea can be caused by fatty tissues blocking airflow
- Exercise often. Exercise leads to better sleep at night
Put sleep apnea behind you
Call or visit our Hackensack clinic to learn more about how a dentist can help you to get past sleep apnea.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Sleep Apnea in Hackensack, NJ.
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