It is estimated that millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but far fewer know very much about what it is or how it can be treated. Quite simply sleep apnea is the disruption of normal breathing during sleep and can become a very serious problem if gone untreated. Sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose since no one remembers how his or her breathing was the night before.
People suffering from sleep apnea also may choke or gasp during sleep to draw in breath, experience loud snoring, awake suddenly to restart breathing, sweat frequently through the night, experience headaches, sore throat, or dry mouth in the morning, and even may experience daytime sleepiness.
Causes of sleep apnea vary. Large tonsils, obesity, relaxation of the tongue and throat muscles, smoking, nasal congestion, and heredity are some of the major causes. Sleep apnea can also develop from other physical ailments such as weak immune system, severe heartburn, acid reflux or high blood pressure.
While not usually associated with sleep apnea, dentists can actually play a large and successful role in the treatment of sleep apnea. Dentists, working along with other health professionals can control the symptoms or reverse sleep apnea. In fact dental treatments are some of the most common and affordable ones. There are different dental appliances, lower jaw adjustment devices, and oral devices that can help treat and fight mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Many dental devices for treating sleep apnea are much like athletic mouth guards or appliances used for orthodontics and are made of acrylic, fitting inside the mouth that when fitted properly can reposition jaw bones and facial muscles. Others actually fit around the head and chin to reposition the jaw, much like headgear for braces. Two of most common dental treatments for sleep apnea include the Tongue Retaining Device and the Mandibular Repositioning. These two devices help open your airway while you sleep. It moves your lower jaw or tongue forward. Often, the lower jaw and tongue move too far back thus blocking the flow of air during sleep.
Dental treatments and devices for sleep apnea can make a huge difference in treating mild to moderate cases. Call our office and ask us how we can best help you treat your sleep apnea for a more rested night’s sleep.