What Can a Dentist Do for Sleep Apnea?

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If you suffer from sleep apnea, you know how debilitating it truly can be. You may go weeks or even months without feeling like you’ve slept much at all, and that affects your thinking, reflexes, and your overall health. Most people assume that you would go to a doctor or a sleep specialist to deal with sleep apnea, but often it’s your dentist who holds the key to a good night’s rest.

What Type of Sleep Apnea Do Dentists Treat?

There are several types of sleep apnea, and each requires its own type of treatment. Dentists deal with obstructive sleep apnea. This type of disorder causes you to stop breathing because something has physically blocked your airway. Usually, you stop breathing for about ten seconds. Then you gasp, snort, or start to make a choking noise, which is what causes you to wake up. Sometimes, you’ll fully wake up, but more often you won’t realize that your sleep is actually being disturbed until you wake up feeling exhausted.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs because the muscles in your throat and mouth actually relax so much that the soft tissues fall into the upper airway, blocking it. This leads to a number of issues, including heart disease, stroke, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and more.

Using Dental Appliances to Keep Your Airway Open

There are two different types of dental appliances that can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The first type is known as a mandibular advancement device, or MAD. This device is similar to a mouth guard or retainer. You fit the top part over your upper teeth and the bottom part over the lower teeth. When worn, the MAD actually pushes your tongue and lower jaw a bit forward. This prevents your throat tissues and muscles from falling into your airway.

The second option is called a tongue retaining mouthpiece. It’s similar to a MAD, but it has a small piece that actually goes around your tongue. The device then uses suction to hold your tongue in place so that it doesn’t block your airway.

Do You Need a Dental Device to Combat Sleep Apnea?

If you’re suffering from sleep apnea and want to get a good night’s sleep, don’t put off coming to see Dr. Laurence A. Langer. He can help you determine the cause of your sleep apnea and treat it. Contact Dr. Langer’s office today to make an appointment.


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