Obstructive Sleep Apnea: How Your Dentist & Oral Appliance Therapy Can Help

man snoring potentially suffering from sleep apnea in sarniaYour Guide on How Oral Appliance Therapy (& Your Dentist) Can Help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Do you have trouble getting a good night’s rest? Does your spouse or partner complain about you snoring or gasping for air throughout the night? There’s a chance that you could have a sleep disorder breathing condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

OSA is a particular type of sleeping disorder that’s caused by your airway being blocked off at the back of your mouth because of your oral tissues. 

For example, if you have a large neck circumference, it is more likely for your tonsils, tongue, soft palate, and back of the throat to collapse against each other when you lay back to sleep. As a result, oxygen flow is blocked to your body (and your brain). 

What causes sleep apnea will depend on the specific type that you have; as such, you will probably need a clinical or take-home sleep study to nail down your exact diagnosis. 

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Some of the signs that you have sleep apnea, and that our Sarnia dentist says to watch for, include:

  • Snoring
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • TMJ pain
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Flat, chipped, worn teeth
  • Broken dental work
  • High blood pressure

The effects of sleep apnea on your life, body, and health can be detrimental if you don’t seek professional care. Statistically speaking, people with sleep apnea or OSA are at a higher risk of cardiovascular (heart) attacks, strokes, and other types of heart disease. 

Do I Have Sleep Apnea? 

An experienced Sarnia sleep dentist like Dr. Karen Davis can screen for obstructive sleep apnea during your routine exam. The warning signs are fairly consistent across the board. However, the condition is one where you might also require a medical diagnosis from a sleep physician or pulmonologist before determining the best way to treat it. 

A common misconception about getting screened or tested for sleep apnea is that you have to take part in an overnight sleep study in a special lab. That used to be the case, but today it’s possible for you to ask about a take-home study that you use in your personal bed. 

With a take-home sleep study, you have a small machine that goes on your wrist, finger, and chest. It measures your pulse oximetry and breathing rate. The machine gathers all of the information about your sleeping, snoring, and breathing while you rest in your own bedroom. The next day, you bring the machine back to the doctor or dentist that ordered it to have it read. Based on the findings, we can determine if you have a sleeping disorder and even which type of sleep apnea it is. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatments & Oral Appliance Therapy

Some types of sleep apnea treatments are best managed with traditional CPAP equipment. CPAP is a continuous pressure device that delivers oxygen by pushing its way into your airway while you sleep. A disadvantage about CPAP machines is that they’re bulky, sometimes loud, and can prevent you from sleeping in the position that you like best. Traveling with a CPAP can present a challenge, and some people even complain that the machine bothers their spouse, roommates, or other family members in the house. 

Fortunately, we offer a great alternative to consider! Oral appliance therapy for OSA is a minimally invasive and effective way to stop sleep apnea at its source: your mouth.

Oral sleep appliances fit over your teeth just like any other type of fitted mouthguard except these special sleep aids act as a mandibular advancement device, where your lower jaw is slightly moved into a more forward position than it typically is. When we do that, it guides your tongue away from the back of your throat. As a result, you can lay down to sleep without having the soft tissues in the back of your mouth collapse against one another. 

Oral Sleep Appliances in Sarnia

We at Dr. Karen Davis Dentistry offer custom snore and sleep guards at our office!  After you are screened for OSA, all we need is an impression of your teeth. From there, we adjust your oral sleep appliance so that it fits and works as comfortably as possible. 

If you’re not CPAP compliant or find it difficult to wear, ask if an oral appliance is right for you. Sleep mouthguards can be worn in conjunction with your CPAP machine, but many people find they’re able to stop using their CPAP completely. 

Call Dr. Karen Davis Dentistry today for your complimentary consultation!

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