Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition in which your breathing starts and stops repeatedly during sleep. It is fairly common and fortunately, it is also treatable. If you think you are dealing with sleep apnea, it is important to obtain a diagnosis and get treatment so you can avoid severe side effects of the…
Oral Appliance Therapy from Your General Dentist for Sleep Apnea
You probably have heard about sleep apnea, but there may be aspects of this condition that you do not understand. It can be a serious problem and may affect your overall health if you do not treat it. Many people who struggle with it may search for answers from a general physician. While this can be effective, you can also overcome this challenge by wearing an oral appliance. Your general dentist can examine you and fit you with a device to improve your nighttime breathing.
An overview of sleep apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central occurs when the brain fails to properly send signals to the respiratory system to breathe effectively. Obstructive happens when something blocks the airway, preventing air from going in and out of the airway. In this case, the individual may stop and restart breathing throughout the night. Sometimes, breathing may cease for up to a few minutes.
The tongue can be the culprit when the airway has blockage. For some people, there is excessive tissue in the throat that prevents effective breathing. Obese people are especially prone to having this issue. Smoking and drinking alcohol can also be factors. Signs of the disease include fatigue and irritability. When a person snores at night, it is also a clue that there could be breathing problems.
What the dentist can do
A general dentist focuses on the prevention and treatment of cavities and gum disease. But this dentist can also treat other conditions, including sleep apnea. Patients who complain about symptoms should go in for an examination. The dentist will examine the patient’s mouth and throat for enlarged tissue and other concerns. There will also be some questions for the patient to answer about how long they have experienced symptoms.
Wearing a mouthguard
Dentists can prescribe a mouthguard to treat conditions such as teeth grinding. A similar device may help with sleep apnea. A mouthguard can pull the jaw forward, opening the airway more when a person is lying down. The dentist will custom-make an appliance for the patient so that it fits properly and comfortably. The dentist will make impressions of the mouth first and may have to make adjustments throughout the treatment.
Wearing a tongue depressor
When the tongue gets in the way of effective breathing, a tongue depressor could solve the problem. This device holds the tongue in place and keeps it from rolling to the back of the mouth. The patient should wear it every night while sleeping. If the patient continues to experience sleep apnea, additional treatment may be necessary.
Caring for the devices
Oral appliances can work well to treat sleep apnea. However, these devices are not indestructible. The patient should handle them with care and store them in a secure place when not using them. The patient should also rinse them off and clean them daily.
You can successfully treat this condition and breathe well again
The effects of sleep apnea can be severe. This is not a disease that you want to ignore. It will not go away on its own. Fortunately, your general dentist can recommend oral therapy to combat it.
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