Did you know that the most conservative treatment for snoring and sleep apnea is a custom-made dental appliance that you wear while you sleep? Oral appliances have a number of advantages over other therapies: they’re less expensive, non-invasive, easily accepted by patients, and reversible – just to name a few. If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, this may be the right option for you.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person pauses their breathing during sleep or takes shallow breaths all through the night. In the most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, the airway is blocked. As a result, the patient snores as he or she struggles to breathe.
Central sleep apnea, the less common form, is an communication issue between the brain and muscles that control breathing. This causes patients to stop breathing entirely for brief periods during sleep.
“I recently switched dentists because my previous dentist was way too aggressive in my treatment and his billing people never could get the amount owed correct the first time. Anyway, I’ve been thrilled with the care I have received to date from Eagle Harbor Dental. They are always on time, expeditious and thorough without doing any “unnecessary” work. And they go out of their way to make sure my insurance pays their fare share minimizing out of pocket expenses on my part. Dr Standish and his daughter, Kelly, are great. My dental hygienist, Erin, is top notch as well.”
Sleep apnea can have a broad range of affects that range from inconvenient to life-threatening. Most obviously, patients typically have a lower quality of sleep. Sleep deprivation affects mood and alertness, which can damage work, personal relationships, and other aspects of life.
The condition also effects the oxygen levels in the blood, increasing the risks of high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and heart attacks. The heartbeat may be affected, increasing the risk of developing arrhythmia, or irregular beating patterns.
Treating Sleep Apnea
There are a number of ways to treat sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes, surgical options, breathing devices, and dental devices may all be effective. Surgical options can be scary and expensive, so these are often a last resort. Breathing devices may be difficult for patients to get used to, loud, and annoying for a patients’ family members.
Dental devices are often the least intrusive option. These may fit like a mouth guard or go around the head to reposition the jaw. In some cases, pairing easy-to-use dental devices with lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and avoiding heavy meals before bedtime can be an inexpensive and effective way to treat sleep apnea.
The team at Eagle Harbor Dental can perform an intro-oral exam to determine if your quality of sleep could be improved with therapy. Please contact us for more information if you are experiencing a snoring or sleep apnea problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Some common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud, frequent snoring, feeling unrested after sleep, constant body movements, and excessive fatigue the next day.
A much more serious symptom is if your partner tells you that you periodically stop breathing during your sleep. If you have this symptom, contact us as soon as possible to schedule your appointment.
Would I be able to tell if I sometimes stop breathing in the middle of the night?
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to tell if you have the serious breathing issues in the middle of the night on your own. It takes someone else telling you.
If you show signs of the other symptoms, try audio or video recording yourself overnight and check if you’re having these breathing episodes.
Does snoring mean that I have sleep apnea?
No, snoring alone does not mean that you have sleep apnea. It may, however, be a cause of concern if it is chronic and very loud. Also, if you notice that you’re showing signs of the other symptoms as well, contact our experts.
Are oral appliances for sleep apnea comfortable to wear?
Oral appliances are custom-tailored to your mouth and made of lightweight material, meaning that they can be rather comfortable to sleep with. If it isn’t comfortable at first, schedule follow-up appointments with your dentist to get it refitted or make adjustments.