You do not have to let sleep apnea dominate your life and ruin your health. This serious condition can affect everything from your cognition to your cardiovascular system. While you may first think of a CPAP machine as an effective way to treat it, your dentist may have a different approach. Dental professionals can prescribe oral appliances to help you breathe properly while you sleep. You should talk to your dentist about which options make the most sense for you.
The trouble with sleep apnea
People who struggle with this condition stop and start breathing repeatedly throughout the night. The individual may stop breathing for just a few seconds, or the breathing could stop for up to a few minutes. This occurs because of something obstructing the airway. Snoring is often a good indication that there is blockage. Overweight and obese people can be more prone to having the condition. It is also more common as people age.
A person’s tongue can be the culprit for causing sleep apnea. Sometimes, during sleep, the tongue can roll back into the person’s mouth, blocking the airway and inhibiting breathing. A general dentist may recommend the patient gets a tongue depressor. This appliance holds the tongue in place, keeping it from going toward the roof of the mouth. If the tongue is the cause for this condition, this appliance can be effective in allowing the patient to breathe normally.
Mouthguards are good for people who grind their teeth or who wear braces and want protection while playing sports. They can work well for sleep apnea patients as well. A properly fitting mouthguard moves the jaw forward, opening up the airway so oxygen can go into and out of the mouth. To make sure it fits well, the dentist will make impressions of the patient’s mouth. Adjustments might be necessary, so the patient should regularly follow up with the dentist.
Mouth appliances can be a good way to treat sleep apnea when an obstruction is the cause. The results will vary from patient to patient. However, if the individual wears it as the dentist prescribes, the patient should be able to breathe regularly at night. Some devices are adjustable, allowing the patient to move the jaw forward or backward as needed. It is important to know that these appliances are effective only when something is blocking the airway, not when the brain is failing to send signals to the respiratory system.
Making the choice
The dentist will decide which appliance is right for the patient. The patient can discuss concerns or ask questions about sleep apnea treatment at semiannual checkups or as needed. Some people may benefit from a combination of both devices. Many patients who use one or the other appliance to treat the condition will wear it for the rest of their lives.
Breathe well once again
Dealing with sleep apnea can be scary. This condition can be fatal if you do not address it and treat it effectively. Your dentist will come up with a plan to help you control and overcome it. Make an appointment today to discuss your needs.
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