It’s a relatively new branch of dentistry that treats sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing problems.
Don’t confuse dental sleep medicine with dental sedation or sleep dentistry. Dental sleep medicine treats sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder where you have frequent, recurring pauses in breathing while sleeping. These gaps can last for up to 60 seconds. They are caused by soft tissue in the back of the throat that relaxes and closes the airway. When the brain is not getting enough oxygen it interferes with important physical processes.
There are three different forms of sleep apnea. They are categorized by the cause of the cessation of breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where your throat muscles relax. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to control your breathing. The final type is called complex sleep apnea syndrome. This type occurs when someone has a combination of the two previously listed.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a medical doctor. If you have several of the following symptoms, we encourage you to see a doctor that specializes in sleep disorders.
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
- Sleep Deprivation
- Excessive Snoring
- Episodes of Not Breathing
- Mouth Breathing
- Dry Mouth/Throat
- Frequent Headaches
How does a sleep apnea dentist treat sleep apnea?
Dentists use oral appliance therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Patients wear a custom-fitted removable oral appliance at night. The appliance fits somewhat like a sports mouthguard.
How does an oral appliance work?
An oral appliance prevents your airway from collapsing. It either holds the tongue or jaw in a forward position.
Does an oral appliance work as well as a CPAP machine?
It depends on the severity of the condition and other considerations specific to the patient. Many patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea benefit from OAT.
What are the advantages of OAT over CPAP?
Some men and women find the device more comfortable. It’s smaller and easier to clean than a CPAP system. Patients who suffer from claustrophobia often favor OAT. Patients who move around a lot when they sleep can get twisted up in the CPAP tube. And a small, portable device is easier to travel with.
If you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and are interested in OAT, give us a call at the number below.
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