Sleep Apnea - How to Use the Oral Appliance
Sleep apnea can be a frustrating condition to deal with. If you find yourself waking up tired every morning, irritable, with your partner complaining about your snoring and sleeping habits, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep condition that affects nearly 20 million people in the United States and will worsen over time if left untreated.
Although there are multiple forms of sleep apnea, the most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In patients with this condition, the soft tissues of the throat relax and block your air passageways. When this happens, it causes patients to stop breathing anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. This can occur multiple times throughout the night, not only disrupting sleep but preventing your body from getting necessary oxygen. Our doctors at Smiles for Life Dental Care in Harrisonburg, VA offer oral appliance therapy to help improve your sleeping habits and oral health.
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Oral Health?
Sleep apnea not only causes sleep deprivation, chronic exhaustion, weight gain, high blood pressure, and a host of other medical conditions, it can have a direct impact on your oral health.
Patients who battle sleep apnea have a tendency to develop grind their teeth and clench their jaw, also known as bruxism, as a result of increased anxiety. Bruxism can weaken and damage your back molars, increasing your chances for decay, dental sensitivity, and cracked teeth. Over time, it can also increase your chances for developing TMJ disorder.
Treating Sleep Apnea
If your dentist suspects you may have sleep apnea, he or she will recommend that you undergo a sleep study with a local sleep specialist. At Smiles for Life Dental Care, we provide splint therapy as an affordable and effective form of treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.
Splint therapy involves wearing a customized oral appliance, known as a mandibular advancement splint (MAS) each night while sleeping. This oral appliance is designed like a retainer and will fit seamlessly over your top and bottom teeth. The oral appliance is connected in such a way that it stabilizes your lower jaw in a forward position so as to prevent your tongue and surrounding soft tissues from collapsing. By doing so, it will keep your airway open, minimizing snoring and maintaining continuous breathing.
Throughout a series of follow-up appointments, our team will make the necessary adjustments to your device to ensure it’s efficacy. In more severe cases of sleep apnea, you may require being fitted with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device.
Benefits of Splint Therapy
Choosing to treat your sleep apnea with a customized oral appliance provides:
- Non-invasive and comfortable device
- More affordable and discreet treatment compared to CPAP
- Improved sleep and quality of life
- Better oral health
Schedule Your Consultation
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or are concerned you may be suffering from it, we recommend visiting with one of our dentists to learn about the available sleep apnea treatments. You can reach us online today or by calling (540) 828-2312 to schedule your consultation.