How Can a Dentist Help Treat Your Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting almost 20 million Americans. Getting a horrible night of sleep is only one of the symptoms of this disorder which can truly have a devastating effect on your everyday life. Living with sleep apnea may seem impossible, however, there are many things you can do with your doctor and dentist to heal your sleeping habits. Read on if you’d like to find out more about sleep apnea and how to treat it with a help of your dentist.

What’s sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that is characterized by your breathing suddenly stopping for multiple seconds while you’re sleeping. This can lead to loud snoring and in more extreme cases it can nudge you from sleep. These pauses in breathing aren’t something to take lightly since not getting oxygen consistently can strain your heart, brain, and lungs. There are two types of sleep apnea, OSA (obstructed sleep apnea) and central sleep apnea.

Obstructed sleep apnea occurs when a part of your mouth cavity caves in during your breathing and obstructs the airflow, whereas central sleep apnea is when your brain stops sending breathing signals. Granted, your dentist will not be of much help with central sleep apnea which is why you should get properly diagnosed before you seek treatment. If you’re living in Arizona, getting sleep apnea treatment in Scottsdale should be on your radar. Sleep apnea is a serious disorder and it’s crucial you seek treatment only from those who are professionals in the field.

The main causes of obstructive sleep apnea

In order to get the treatment you need, you should know the causes of your disorder. When muscles relax and the soft tissues of the neck collapse, obstructing the airway, we experience obstructive sleep apnea, also known as OSA.

When experiencing the pause in breathing some may feel like they’re choking up, while others may feel a lower level of obstruction leading to snoring. Obesity is another leading cause of sleep apnea since carrying a lot of weight on your neck can lead to soft tissue collapse. Other people may deal with sleeping apnea because they have septum deviation or seasonal allergies. No matter the cause, sleep apnea results in lower oxygen levels in the body and sleep deprivation.

CPAP for sleep apnea

Most people are familiar with CPAP machines which are most of the time the first line of treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP machine consists of an oxygen mask connected to an air generator with a tube. The machine pumps the air into your lungs throughout the night ensuring you get constant oxygen flow.

Though CPAP machines solve the issue, they are highly uncomfortable to wear and some patients report that it doesn’t help their sleep much since they find it hard to relax with an oxygen mask on. Luckily, with a help of your dentist, you can opt for another type of treatment that will ensure you get a full night’s sleep all the time.

Dentist’s role in treating sleep apnea

Dental sleep medicine specialists have come up with a new way of treating sleep apnea, with the help of oral appliances. Oral appliances look like mouthguards or even retainers that you put in your mouth before you go to bed. Each of these appliances is specially sculpted with each patients’ oral cavity in mind, so you don’t have to worry about it not properly fitting you.

There are two types of oral appliances: mandibular repositioning devices and tongue retaining devices. Depending on the specifics of your issue, your dentist will let you know the type you’ll need.

Mandibular repositioning oral appliance

A mandibular repositioning oral appliance is a device that positions your jaw forward while you sleep ensuring constant airflow to your lungs. They are most commonly used in the field of dental sleep medicine.

Tongue retaining oral appliance

This is another type of oral appliance that addresses a different cause of obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re having issues with breath cessation due to your tongue blocking your airway, this is the right treatment option for you. It works by keeping your tongue in place while you sleep.

Your dentist can help you treat your sleep apnea more comfortably and effectively than a general practitioner. Nevertheless, you should make sure you go through all the diagnostic measures before you devise your treatment strategy with your dentist.

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