Do you snore loudly at night? Have you ever woken up gasping for air? These symptoms point to a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. It manifests when the tissue at the back of the throat relaxes as you sleep and collapse, blocking the airway. This results in a brief period of cessation in breathing. While not acutely life-threatening, the continued stoppage of breathing can lead to major health issues if it persists.
Your general practitioner can help you treat sleep problems. But a dentist can also address mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea. Read on to learn more about how your dentist can help you manage and resolve sleep apnea symptoms.
Why Ask a Dentist About Sleep Apnea?
You may think of your primary care physician if you want to treat sleep apnea and other respiratory or sleep conditions. But your dentist has the expertise to assist with this disorder too.
A dentist not only studies teeth and gums in their training. They also must possess an understanding of the surrounding muscles and areas, including the airway. Therefore, a dentist will know the impact that positioning of the jaw and teeth can have. When it comes to the ability to breathe and issues that may disrupt this function, they will be able to diagnose any issues. If you have concerns about obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist can evaluate your condition to determine if dentistry can resolve your symptoms.
What Sleep Apnea Treatment Can My Dentist Provide?
A doctor may suggest using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea. This device features a mask worn over the nose or mouth. It forces oxygen into the airways while a patient sleeps. While this can effectively prevent breathing cessation, patients may find it hard to sleep due to the loud sound of the machine and the discomfort of wearing the mask.
Noncompliance with this treatment will mean that sleep apnea symptoms will continue. Then the patient will remain at risk of health concerns. A dentist can give a patient a custom-made night guard to wear as they sleep that can improve sleep apnea symptoms.
This oral appliance fits the patient’s unique smile, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit that makes it easier to wear without issue as they sleep. They will not have to worry about the device falling out of their mouth.
The night guard keeps the jaw in a position of rest such that the tissue at the back of the throat will not collapse. This means that the patient can breathe easily through the night, lowering their risk of major medical problems down the road.
Ask your dentist if your sleep apnea worries can be treated with an oral appliance or other dental solution. Sometimes straightening a patient’s smile or aligning their jaw through orthodontics or Invisalign can treat this disorder too. Schedule an evaluation to learn which dental solutions will work best for your unique smile. Other forms of sleep apnea may need alternative treatments from a doctor.