Sleep apnea has been linked with a number of serious health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Fortunately, effective therapies are available to treat this issue. And they don’t necessarily mean that the patient has to wear a burdensome mask that forces air into the airway in order to keep it open during sleep. Oral appliance therapy can eliminate or significantly reduce the frequency of apneic episodes (when the patient briefly stops breathing), along with the symptoms associated with sleep apnea, like loud snoring, daytime drowsiness and morning headaches or sore throats.
Your dentist actually can treat you for sleep apnea. This makes sense because the shape and orientation of your jaw can contribute to sleep apnea, so these factors may influence the treatment as well.
Some oral appliances affect the positioning of the jaw during sleep, while others focus more on the tongue. Ultimately, the goal of the oral appliance is to eliminate the airway obstruction, and your dentist will determine which approach is likely to be more beneficial in your case.
Unlike the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, which is highly effective but also highly cumbersome, oral appliance therapy is not intrusive. In fact, you’ll barely even realize the appliance is in place. If you have any experience with wearing a mouthguard at night for teeth grinding, the feeling is similar with an oral appliance designed to treat sleep apnea.
It’s important to note that oral appliances are only useful for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Because there is more than one type of sleep apnea, you should undergo a sleep study before exploring oral appliance therapy.
Addressing your sleep apnea will give you a host of health benefits and improve your quality of life, so don’t suffer from this condition any longer. After you have a confirmed diagnosis of sleep apnea, schedule an appointment at our office to learn more about your treatment options.