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A Good Night's Rest: Treating Sleep Apnea with an Oral Appliance

By Dr. Dan Whiting on September 10, 2016

A dental mouthguardWhen people come to Smiles For Life, they know that we offer excellent dental care. What they may not expect is that we provide the people of Bridgewater with a number of other treatments that help promote total wellness. For example, our dental health center offers sleep apnea treatment, which is ideal for people who suffer from restless and snore-filled sleep.

Thanks to a better understanding of how sleep apnea occurs, we can fashion a comfortable oral appliance that can relieve many cases of sleep apnea. Let's consider the nature of sleep apnea and how this dental mouthpiece can help.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

First of all, let's clarify that sleep apnea is more than just a bad case of snoring.

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing temporarily stops. Each stoppage in breathing is referred to as an apnea. These pauses in breathing can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and it's possible for people to experience multiple instances of this throughout the night. This makes getting a good night's sleep very difficult.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three kinds of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – The most common kinds of sleep apnea, OSA occurs when there is a physical blockage of the airways.

  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) – CSA involves breathing issues related to the brain and central nervous system that lead to issues with normal breathing and respiration.

  • Combination of OSA and CSA – Some people suffer from sleep apnea that combines OSA and CSA issues.

Common Causes of Sleep Apnea

Common causes and risk factors of sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive weight
  • Narrow airways and breathing passages
  • Thicker neck circumference
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Nasal congestion

Risk factors for the condition include smoking, alcohol consumption, advanced age, gender (more likely in men), and use of sedatives and tranquilizers.

Oral Appliances to Treat Sleep Apnea

To address cases of OSA, it's not uncommon for special mouthpieces to be crafted that are intended to be worn while a person is asleep. By wearing this custom dental appliance, a case of mild to moderate OSA can be effectively addressed. Patients will be able to experience a restful sleep again.

How These Appliances Work

Oral appliances that treat sleep apnea reposition a patient's lower jaw. By doing this, obstructions caused by the soft palate and the throat are reduced. This means an unblocked airway and the ability to breathe properly.

It may take some time to determine if the appliance is working properly, which is why a sleep study will be necessary to measure the outcomes of treatment.

Advantages of Oral Appliance Sleep Apnea Treatment

An oral appliance for sleep apnea is simple and easy. There is no sound or uncomfortable mask as with a CPAP machine, and patients do not need to undergo any kind of surgical care either. Simply wear the appliance as directed and rest easy.

Combining Oral Appliances and Lifestyle Changes

Since a number of factors related to lifestyle can lead to sleep apnea, we encourage patients to consider positive steps they can take on their own. This often means eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products, and being conservative about alcohol consumption. That's all just another way we can promote total wellness through our dental care center.

Learn More About Treating Sleep Apnea

To learn more about proper treatment of sleep apnea, be sure to contact our advanced dental care center today. The team at Smiles For Life is here to help you achieve better dental health and total wellness.

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115 Oakwood Dr
Bridgewater, VA 22812

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