Sleep is crucial to maintaining good health, but many people tolerate restless nights because they are used to it. Sleep apnea is a common condition that interrupts nighttime breathing, causing people to toss and turn. If you feel exhausted during the day, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder that blocks your airway sporadically during the night, interrupting your sleep. Snoring and gasping are two symptoms, but there may be other signs that harder to diagnose. Having a professional evaluate your condition can help you get the treatment you need. Individuals with sleep apnea generally have one of two types; Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA).
OSA can be caused by inherited issues like an abnormally small throat, but weight and age also contribute to the disorder. CSA is a neurological issue, where the brain is not communicating correctly with breathing muscles and tissues. Treating sleep apnea is a priority because the problem has serious implications for your general health. Research suggests that adequate amounts of sleep promote optimal heart and mental health, while a lack of rest puts additional stress on the cardiovascular system and increases your stress levels exponentially. The most immediate issue, however, is how you aren’t free to enjoy daily life.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Since sleep apnea is caused by a collapsing or improperly working airway muscles, patients need instruments to keep them open throughout the night. Oral appliances keep the jaws positioned in a way that helps you breathe easier. These devices will restore your night’s sleep, especially in patients experiencing OSA, or mild CSA. Some of the typical sleep apnea appliances used include:
- TAP®3 (Adjustable)
- Herbst Telescopic Appliance
How Does a Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Work?
Oral appliances help sleep apnea patients by positioning the jaw in a way that increases the size of the airway, which helps prevent sleep apnea and snoring. Other benefits include:
- Convenience – Oral appliances are easy to transport and don’t impact a partner’s sleep.
- Compliance – Because oral appliances are more comfortable than other sleep apnea therapies, it is easy to stick to the treatment.
- Immediacy – The benefits of an oral appliance often take place during the first night they are worn.
How Do I Know if an Oral Appliance is Right for Me?
Patients who suffer from sleep apnea often undergo a sleep study from a physician who specializes in sleep disorders. In some cases, these physicians will prescribe a CPAP machine, and for others, they will recommend an oral device. Although a physician typically determines which form of therapy is best, a dental professional is qualified to carry out and monitor the treatment plan.
What if I Don’t Qualify for a Sleep Apnea Appliance?
When apnea conditions are severe, a CPAP machine can help you breathe properly throughout the night. This device maintains a consistent amount of airflow through the throat and nose, keeping tissues out of the way. The CPAP mask and constant air pressure allow you to inhale and exhale normally.
While physicians often recommend CPAP therapy, many patients aren’t suitable candidates for the treatment due to dry nasal passages and claustrophobia, among many other issues. For these candidates, dental appliance therapy can alleviate their concerns. If you have already tried a CPAP machine and did not achieve the desired results, your dentist can review your sleep study and give you an oral appliance that will meet your needs.
Improve Your Health & Your Quality of Life
The right sleep apnea treatment can eliminate morning headaches, sleepy afternoons, and snoring at night. More importantly, it can help those who stop breathing while they sleep – a serious condition that can be dangerous. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, your physician or your dentist can help you get the right treatment and a good night’s sleep.