Can Dental Treatment Really Help Sleep Apnea?

| September 30, 2016

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be a dangerous condition, and often goes undetected. And for those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, bulky masks are an uncomfortable and noisy solution at best.

If you are unfamiliar with the condition, you may be surprised to learn that there is a sleep apnea dental treatment that can provide a comfortable and quiet night’s sleep.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Someone who suffers from sleep apnea stops breathing while asleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, in which the airways are partially obstructed by soft tissue during sleep. Less common is central sleep apnea, where the brain fails to tell your lungs to breathe—this form is typically due to a stroke or other form of brain trauma.

Obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by jawbone issues, swollen or large tonsils or adenoids, obesity, alcohol use before sleep, and some medications.

At least nine percent of women and 24 percent of men may be affected by sleep apnea, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and the amount who go undiagnosed could be as high as 80 percent.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health

Along with causing drowsiness and exhaustion during the day, and loud snoring at night, sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues—and in some cases, even death. If untreated, it can lead to:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery disease

Sleep Apnea Dental Treatment

Diagnosed sleep apnea can be treated in a number of ways, including weight loss, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, and positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy—the masks many people associate with the condition. But another treatment that isn’t as well-known is oral appliance therapy.

If you played sports in school, this appliance will look and feel familiar, in many ways it’s similar to the mouth guard worn by athletes. But instead of protecting your teeth, these custom-fitted appliances bring the jaw into a forward position, to keep the upper airway open when you lay down.

The oral appliance need only be worn while sleeping, and can also help eliminate snoring. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, there are over 100 FDA-cleared types to choose from, and the therapy is covered under many medical insurance plans.

Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Treatment?

The only way to know if oral appliance therapy is right for you is to talk it over with your doctor. You will likely undergo a sleep study, which your doctor will use to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea, and if so, whether it is obstructive or central sleep apnea.

If your doctor determines that oral appliance therapy can help with your sleep apnea, getting fitted for a mouthpiece is easy.

How Grandview Dental Care Can Help

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, our staff will begin with an examination of your mouth and airway, possibly taking new x-rays, and an impression of your teeth. These will be used to craft an oral appliance unique to your mouth, which we will then fit and adjust to make sure it’s comfortable and effective.

You will need to use the appliance nightly to experience long-term benefits, and return for follow-up fittings as well. Once in place, the difference to your sleep should be noticeable on the very first night.

Sleep apnea can seriously affect both your physical and mental health, but it is also a condition that can be easily treated. Schedule an appointment, and we’ll be happy to get started.