According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It is essentially a condition
where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts in your sleep.
Sleep apnea results in lower-quality sleep and has a negative impact on the body’s supply of oxygen, which may lead to potentially severe health consequences. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about sleep apnea:
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
This is a chronic condition where muscles tend to relax during sleep. This makes the soft tissue fall back and constrict the airway. As a result, you may suddenly stop breathing several times each night, with each time lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or longer. This can cause sleep disturbance and reduced oxygen level in the body.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Yes. Sleep apnea has been associated with serious health conditions such as strokes, high blood pressure, heart disease, personality changes, impotence, and depression.
What are the indicators of sleep apnea?
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up choking or gasping, lack of energy during the day, waking up with a dry or sore throat, restless sleep, morning headaches, forgetfulness, and irritability. Sleep apnea is often first noticed by a bed partner rather than the patient themselves.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Sleep apnea can be successfully treated through using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is applied through a mask connected to a CPAP machine.
Although this method has produced positive results in moderate to severe cases, oral dental appliances are good alternatives for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Common oral devices include:
||Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs): They resemble retainers or mouthguards, and function by pushing the tongue forward so that throat muscles do not fall back into the airways.
||Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces: They are designed similar to the MAD, but additionally consist of a small compartment that encloses the tongue to keep it in a forward position.
Are oral dental appliances comfortable?
Oral appliances are lightweight and are customized to fit inside your mouth. Make follow-up visits to your dentist to ensure their effectiveness. They are usually adjusted with time to provide you maximum comfort and optimum results.
Are dental devices as effective as CPAP?
Oral dental appliances are as effective as CPAP for mild to moderate sleep apnea. CPAP is a better option if your condition is moderate to severe.
You may be likely to use an oral appliance more consistently as you only have to wear it at night. CPAP systems may also seem bulky and uncomfortable, making people avoid them. Remember that consistency in treatment is crucial for it to be successful.
Can I use an oral appliance if I have missing teeth, dentures, or bridgework?
Oral appliances are custom designed to fit within your mouth. You can get an oral appliance fitted even if you are missing some or all of your upper teeth. However, ideally you should have at least 6-8 teeth to benefit from a regular oral appliance.
Oral dental appliances are effective treatment methods for sleep apnea, and have gone through proper safety and effectiveness assessments. If you suffer from any signs of sleep apnea or notice some in your partner, schedule an appointment with us at Nelson R. Diers Orthodontics by calling us at (513) 829-4400 today.