Sleep Apnea and How it is Treated in the Dental World

Did you know that as many as 18 million adults in the United States—roughly 1 in every 15 Americans—suffer from sleep apnea? If you are experiencing symptoms like snoring, gasping for air, or interrupted breathing during the night, you may be one of them.

Sleep apnea is a common yet serious sleep disorder that can wreak havoc on your overall health and quality of life. The good news is that there are treatments out there that work, including those offered in the dental world.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that causes frequent breathing interruptions when you sleep. These interruptions—which can occur multiple times throughout the night and last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes—deprive the body of the oxygen it needs. As a result, people with sleep apnea often wake up feeling worn out, agitated, and unable to focus.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Apnea

If you suspect that you may be living with sleep apnea, it is essential to take action and seek an expert diagnosis as soon as possible. Untreated sleep apnea can result in more serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and stroke. 

A sleep study must be performed to diagnose sleep apnea. During this study, your doctor will monitor your breathing patterns, heart rate, and other vital signs while you sleep to assess the severity of your condition. You must spend the night in a sleep lab hooked to various monitoring devices to participate in the study.

Once you have been given a sleep apnea diagnosis, there are several treatment options available to you. Lifestyle changes—such as losing weight and incorporating more exercise into your daily routine—can help minimize the severity of your symptoms. Furthermore, medical equipment like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines can help keep your airway open during sleep and prevent breathing interruptions.

However, surgical intervention may be required for some to correct the issue. This is typically only used in severe cases of sleep apnea where other treatment methods came up short. Your doctor can help you determine which treatment option is most suitable for you based on the severity of your condition and other factors.

How Dentists Can Help Treat Sleep Apnea

Did you know that dentists can play an important role in treating sleep apnea? They can custom-make oral appliances that help keep your airway open while you sleep, lowering the occurrence of breathing interruptions and enhancing the quality of your sleep.

These oral appliances are easy to wear and comfortable, making them an excellent option for those who find CPAP machines “unpleasant.” They work by repositioning the jaw and tongue, which prevents the airway from collapsing while you are asleep.

One of the most significant advantages of dental treatment for sleep apnea is that these oral appliances are lightweight and portable, making them perfect for travel. Your oral device can easily fit in your pocket or wallet, so you will not have to worry about lugging a heavy CPAP machine wherever you go.

Final Thoughts

If you suspect you have sleep apnea or are experiencing symptoms like snoring or daytime fatigue, it is time for you to take action. Talk to your dentist about the symptoms you are experiencing and ask if a custom oral appliance could be the right solution for you. With the right treatment, you can enjoy better sleep and improved overall health.

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