Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person’s breathing to be interrupted while they are asleep. It is much more common than many people realize. The most common sleep apnea treatment is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This works for most people but not for everyone, so there are several other options. At The Smile Spa, we offer a sleep application therapy known as oral appliance therapy.
Whether oral appliance therapy is right for you depends on the severity of your sleep apnea and the kind of sleep apnea you have. The three types of sleep apnea are obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea is when partial or complete physical blockage of your airway takes place while you are asleep. This means that the soft tissue at the back of your throat collapses to halt or reduce the flow of air.
Central sleep apnea occurs when there is a nervous system dysfunction. Your brain and nervous system fail to tell your muscles to breathe in air. Many patients suffer from mixed sleep apnea, a combination of central and obstructive causes. Oral application therapy is designed to treat obstructive sleep apnea. It can be prescribed by your dentist often in consultation with your doctor.
What are the Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Patients don’t recognize at first that they have obstructive sleep apnea. Often, the more likely party to recognize warning signs is a sleeping partner, as indicated by some of the below symptoms:
- Fatigue or tiredness during the day
- Restlessness while sleeping
- Sudden awakenings in the night to take a breath
- Sore throat when waking
Many people who have obstructive sleep apnea don’t notice many of the above symptoms and have no complaints about sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea can be even more challenging to recognize in children. It is best to recognize if you have obstructive sleep apnea as soon as possible when the signs are present. Many health problems can result from untreated sleep apnea. These include hypertension, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and heart attacks.
Getting Sleep Apnea Treatment
Oral appliance therapy is a sleep apnea treatment that involves creating oral appliances that sit in your mouth while sleeping. The oral appliance is like an orthodontic retainer. It helps maintain your jaw in a forward position, which in turn keeps your airway open.
The benefits of this treatment include improved sleep, restored alertness, and avoiding long-term negative health consequences of untreated obstructive sleep apnea. The oral appliance is also convenient relative to other treatments like CPAP, allowing for a quiet, portable, and easy-to-care-for solution.
If we decide to move forward with oral appliance therapy as your sleep apnea treatment, the process is straightforward. We will take an impression of your teeth to have a device created that fits correctly and comfortably.
It takes a couple of weeks to get used to the device. You may experience some short-term side effects, such as a dry throat, soreness in the gums or jaw, or higher-than-usual salivation. These often subside as your mouth and throat get used to your new sleeping routine.
Is Sleep Apnea Treatment Right for Me?
Sleep apnea is a serious condition, so it is important to identify the right cause and treatment. We will consult with you and your doctor to review the severity of your symptoms. Oral appliance therapy can be effective and increase your quality of life, but we want to make sure it’s right for each patient. For more information about sleep apnea treatment, call our office today!