Sleep apnea is a disorder which causes respiration to stop when a person is sleeping. This is a very common disorder affecting more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. A person can stop breathing from 10 seconds up to a few minutes. The pauses in breathing can take place up to 30 times in one hour. Sleep apnea can cause life-threatening health problems related to oxygen deprivation if it isn’t addressed. Some of the health problems resulting from oxygen deprivation include heart disease, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and learning/memory problems.
Warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Frequent silences during sleep due to breaks in breathing
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Loud snoring
- Sudden awakenings to restart breathing
- Daytime sleepiness
In an effort to reduce sleep apnea, some medical companies have introduced some sleep apnea dental appliances. Two common oral devices are the Mandibular Repositioning Device and the Tongue Retaining Device. These devices work by opening your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep. It appears the dental appliances have been successful for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Fewer apneas occur when using these dental devices.
If a patient chooses to use a dental appliance, dentists are great choices to work on designing the oral appliance for a person’s mouth. A dentist will design and fabricate a mold of the teeth and jaws. It is important to get fitted by a dentist specializing in sleep apnea and work with the dentist to identify any dental problems with using the dental appliance.
Why Use a Dentist to help with Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea occurs within the airways, the symptoms are produced through the mouth. Since dentists are the mouth experts, it seems very appropriate to use a dentist, particularly one who has significant knowledge on sleep apnea. Another great benefit of choosing dental sleep apnea treatment is that the dentist may be able to pick out specific problems within your mouth that may be exacerbating your sleep apnea. If a person grinds his teeth during sleep, the dentist will be able to repair any damage that may have been caused.
Dental treatments for sleep apnea offer a huge array of benefits to a person’s health, appearance and condition. Techniques such as oral appliance therapy will not cure sleep apnea, but it can reduce the episodes that occur resulting from sleep apnea.