Sleep Apnea Dentistry and Snore Treatment

img_sleep_apneaA more restful night’s sleep is just an appointment away with the assistance of dental appliances.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that causes people to stop breathing in the middle of the night when they are asleep. Someone who has sleep apnea may awaken hundreds of times during a typical night to resume breathing, but these waking periods only last split seconds, so in the morning the person has no idea that their sleep was interrupted. Fatigue, irritability, headaches and other symptoms of not having had enough sleep are usually present, though the person thinks they sleep soundly all night every night.

Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a doctor with testing, and there are different options for treatment. The most common is a forced air machine, called a C-PAP, which continuously provides oxygen through a facial mask to keep air flowing all night. While these machines are effective, they can be cumbersome, they require electricity and they take up space.

There is a smaller, portable and comfortable alternative sleep apnea treatment that is available from the dentist. Sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the air passageways by tissue at the back of the throat or by the tongue falling back. Dental appliances, which are mouthpieces worn while sleeping, position the jaws and tongue correctly to keep passageways open. The most common type of oral appliance, a mandibular advancement device or MAD, gently pushes the lower jaw down and forward so that airways stay open. A TRD or tongue retaining device keeps the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway. These devices not only keep free breathing continuous all night, they also eliminate the snoring that is usually a primary symptom of sleep apnea.

“I’ve been using my oral sleep appliance for six months now. I have lots of energy and have lost over 30 pounds. I don’t need to drink as much caffeine to stay alert during the day. It changed my life. I should have seen Dr. Alaswad years ago!”

– Mark, Fair Oaks, California

Mark didn’t realize he had obstructive sleep apnea until his symptoms became too much to handle. “I know that I snore, but I didn’t realize my extreme fatigue and weight gain were related to it at all,” he says.

He came in for an appointment with Dr. Alaswad, who noted that Mark had enamel erosion that was similar to a patient with acid reflux. “I didn’t have acid reflux, but I told Dr. Alaswad that I’m a snorer and that I wake up a lot in the night.” Dr. Alaswad had Mark evaluated for sleep apnea, and a diagnosis quickly followed.

Now, Mark wears a dental appliance at night to help keep his airway open and has seen a dramatic difference in his life. “Dr. Alaswad really knew what was going on. I wish I’d seen him sooner!”

In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be able to provide permanent improvement to the positioning of the mouth and jaws and relieve the symptoms of sleep apnea.

If you suffer from sleep difficulties, snoring, or if you have fatigue or other symptoms of sleep disorders, you can learn more about dental solutions by calling us for a consultation appointment.