It may surprise you to learn that your dentist has a role to play in treating your sleep apnea, if you are one of the many Americans who suffer from this condition. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition in which breathing is disturbed, due to muscles in the throat relaxing and temporarily blocking your airway. The classic sign of this condition is snoring, though sleep apnea can be present even without it being so obvious. The disruption to proper sleep can lead to a host of problems, including daytime fatigue, mood changes, morning headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke. Risk factors include being overweight, having a large neck or anatomically narrow airway, and smoking. Men are twice as likely as women to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
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Oakridge Dental Center may be able to treat your mild to moderate sleep apnea with oral appliances if initial steps like trying to sleep in a different position are not successful. It is important to have your dental sleep device fitted by a qualified professional, as incorrectly sized devices may lead to little or no improvement, and these devices also have the potential to cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. Additionally, your dental provider should monitor your teeth for long-term consequences that can occur, such as changes in your bite or shifting of the teeth, and then intervene to correct this. The sleep appliance is also recommended for patients who do not tolerate CPAP.
If you have a problem with sleep apnea, our expert dentists will be able to determine which oral appliance solution is best for you. These are worn at night and generally function by maintaining the jaw in a lowered and more forward position to keep the airway open. Other devices include tongue stabilizers that hold the tongue forward using mild suction, in order to prevent it from falling back into the throat. Once a device is fitted and used routinely at night, an early check up is recommended to see if it’s working properly.
Many people who suffer from sleep apnea awaken convinced they have slept soundly throughout the night, so that alone cannot be taken as a sign that you do not suffer from this condition. If you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea, Oakridge Dental Center may be able to help with an oral appliance that will allow you to get a proper night’s sleep and all the benefits that follow.