Sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized by airway blockage while sleeping. The most common symptom is snoring, which is a sign that the airway is partially blocked before a complete stoppage of breathing occurs. Patients with sleep apnea will stop breathing for seconds at a time until the brain registers that fact, causing you to change positions to start breathing again. This can happen many times in a single night, resulting in poor quality sleep.
Patients with sleep apnea often snore loudly at night, feel tired during the day, and have trouble concentrating on tasks as a result of poor sleep. Sleep apnea can even lead to serious health conditions such as heart and lung disease.
The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable. There are a variety of options for preventing sleep apnea. Which is the best one? It depends on a few factors.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
To understand the various treatments for sleep apnea, it helps to understand what causes it in the first place. For patients with sleep apnea, the tongue slides back and the throat tissues collapse, blocking the airway. This happens as the patient relaxes and falls asleep. It can continue to happen throughout the night. It tends to be worse for patients who sleep on their back and those with nasal congestion that causes mouth breathing. Sleep Apnea is more common in patients who are overweight and also have a small lower jaw and significant fat in the neck area.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
The three most common sleep apnea treatments are:
- Oral Appliance Therapy. Dentists can provide you with an oral appliance that can prevent sleep apnea. It repositions the jaw so that the tongue and tissues in the back of the mouth cannot fall back to block the airway. It can be custom made to fit your teeth for optimal comfort.
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). You have most likely heard of a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. It consists of a mask that fits over the mouth and nose that you wear when you sleep. The mask attaches to a machine that provides a continuous flow of air that keeps the airway open.
- Surgery. In some cases there is excess throat tissue that can be removed to prevent sleep apnea. The most predictable surgery is to move the lower jaw & upper jaw surgically forward. This surgery will permanently move the tongue forward and open the airway and correct Sleep apnea.
Which Sleep Apnea Treatment is Best?
Deciding which treatment option is right for you depends on a few factors, such as:
- Severity of your disorder. Oral appliances can correct sleep apnea for most people. However, in some severe cases it may not be enough. Some patients may require a CPAP machine or surgery. But an oral appliance is an appropriate starting point to see if the treatment may help first.
- Shape of your airway. If the problem is caused by a natural blockage from the shape of your airway or the tissue in the back of your throat, surgery may be your best option. Surgery is the most invasive option, but it is likely a permanent solution.
- Comfort preferences. Some patients find that the mask that comes with a CPAP machine is bulky and uncomfortable to wear while sleeping. It is also noisy and cumbersome to travel with. Many patients prefer the size and comfort of an oral appliance.
The Benefits of an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea
An oral appliance has many benefits:
- Affordable. An oral appliance is an affordable treatment for sleep apnea. In most cases insurance will cover a portion of it because it is considered medically necessary and it can prevent a myriad of other health issues.
- Comfortable. A custom-made oral appliance will fit your mouth for optimal comfort.
- Compact. An oral appliance is small and easy to pack along when traveling.
An oral appliance is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to get a better night’s sleep.
Dental Implant Center of Rockville Treats Sleep Apnea
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea or even if you don’t have an official diagnosis but you snore at night, an oral appliance can help. Not only will you get a better night’s sleep, but so will your spouse and anyone else that sleeps near you. Many satisfied patients have reported renewed energy and overall better wellness after using an oral appliance.