Can My Dentist Help Treat Sleep Apnea?

Do you have sleep apnea? You are not alone – about 18 million adults in the United States have this potentially serious sleep disorder, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

If you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops and starts several times each night. The pauses in breathing can last 10 seconds or longer, and happen as frequently as 30 or more times each hour as you sleep. Sleep apnea can cause snoring; it can also cause you to wake up in order to breathe, and waking up 30 times an hour can leave you feeling tired all day, even after a full night’s sleep. Fortunately, your dentist can help treat your sleep apnea.

Dentists can practice dental sleep medicine, which focuses on the use of oral appliances to treat snoring and a type of sleep apnea known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, the muscles at the back of your throat relax, which allows nearby tissues to block your airway. Your tongue may also slide back to block your airway. Oral appliance therapy, as provided by a dentist, helps keep the airway open.

Oral appliance therapy involves wearing a removable oral piece, which fits like a sports mouthguard or orthodontic retainer, in your mouth as you sleep. There are several types of oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea, and each device may look slightly different. There are two main types of oral appliances, and they work in slightly different ways to prevent OSA:

Mandibular repositioning devices – repositions your lower jaw forward and slightly downward to keep your airway open while you sleep; these are the most commonly used oral appliances for sleep apnea

Tongue retaining devices – holds your tongue in place so that it does not block your airway

Your dentist can help you determine which oral appliance might be right to treat your sleep apnea. For more information on how your dentist can help treat your sleep apnea, contact Evanko Dental Group Of Medina.


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