07 Mar Oral Appliance Therapy to Treat Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where the patient’s airway becomes blocked during periods of sleep. This is usually due to tissue collapsing around the throat; the individual may not even realize it is occurring because the brain awakens them and they shift subconsciously to begin breathing again. This can happen multiple times throughout the night; in very serious cases hundreds of time every night. A visit with your dentist might provide a solution.
Your dentist can fit you with an oral appliance that will reposition your jaw to prevent those tissues from collapsing. This is a great solution, and in addition to the oral appliance, the patient may try:
Losing weight – Sleep apnea is more of a problem for overweight individuals.
Sleep on your side or abdomen – lying on your back can exacerbate the problem.
Avoid or limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine from mid-afternoon until bedtime.
Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form.
Do not consume alcohol or sleep medications before bed – although people may believe these will help them to sleep more soundly, they actually allow those tissues that collapse closing your airway to relax more.
It is important to note that the oral appliance needed to treat sleep apnea is not the same as the mouth guard appliance you might wear to prevent teeth grinding. The oral appliance needed to treat sleep apnea is fabricated by your dentist to your exact specifications; it will position your jaw to prevent tissues from around your throat from closing your airway.
How do you know you have sleep apnea? You may experience excessive fatigue due to interrupted sleep every night. Do you snore? Although snoring may be an indicator, it does not provide a definitive diagnosis. Do you already suffer from asthma or other breathing conditions? These can contribute to sleep apnea as well.
A positive diagnosis is reached through the use of a sleep study. However, if you suspect you are dealing with this sleep disorder, a consultation with your dentist may provide some help. For more information or to schedule a visit, contact Friendly Dental Care at 740-687-6105.