June 4, 2019
Getting the kind of rest you need isn’t always easy, especially if you suffer from sleep apnea. Even if you do go to bed early, getting a solid 8 or 9 hours isn’t likely when you’re waking up gasping for air or snoring so loud your partner is constantly telling you to “turn over.” Thankfully, ceased breathing and loud snoring no longer have to be a way of life. With the help of your dentist, you can find relief (and sleep) with oral appliance therapy. Find out more about this method of treatment and just how crucial a role your dentist can play in helping you get the sleep you need.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Do you find yourself waking up multiple times each night? Do you snore so loud, your partner contemplates sleeping in the other room? If so, you might have sleep apnea. This disorder occurs when your airway is blocked and breathing ceases for 10 seconds or more at a time. This can happen once or hundreds of times each night. When you lack the oxygen needed, your brain is triggered, and your blood pressure rises. Your brain must then tell your body to breathe, which often causes you to wake up gasping or choking for air.
Severe cases of sleep apnea can not only be problematic for your sleep pattern, but it can lead to dangerous health conditions and result in a heart attack or stroke.
How Can My Dentist Help?
Surprisingly, if you’re suffering from sleep apnea, your dentist can serve as a great partner in treating the condition. How so? Since sleep apnea occurs as a result of your tongue and throat collapsing, effectively blocking your airway, it would be natural to have a professional who is well-versed and trained in problems as they pertain to the oral cavity and throat.
Before you can receive treatment by your dentist though, you must first have a sleep study. Once it is confirmed that you have sleep apnea, you can talk with your dentist about treatment options, one of which is oral appliance therapy.
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
You may think a CPAP machine is the only way to treat sleep apnea, but you’d be surprised to learn that a small oral device can produce effective results. Oral appliance therapy is a compact, portable appliance, much like a mouthguard, that you wear while you sleep. Customized to your individual needs, it repositions your jaw and/or tongue to allow your airway to remain open and prevent collapse throughout the night.
There are different oral appliances dentists offer, but most are either mandibular repositioning devices, which move your jaw forward and down, or tongue retaining devices, which hold your tongue in place.
No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured that an oral appliance can help improve your quality of sleep. Unsure if you might be suffering from sleep apnea? Talk to your dentist today about your symptoms, and find out what you can do to receive treatment today.
About the Author
Dr. Jacob Milner, DDS, has always been passionate about providing dental care for kids and seniors. As part of the Dolfield Dental team, Dr. Milner has enjoyed the opportunity to take care of patients who are suffering from sleep apnea. If you’re feeling exhausted throughout the day or are concerned about having a lower quality of life due to lack of sleep, let Dr. Milner and his team help you. To learn more, visit our website or call (410) 902-4110.
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