What the Dentist Can Do to Address Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea doesn’t mean you have to sign up for sleep studies or use a CPAP machine. In fact, there might be a much easier treatment for mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which affects close to one billion people worldwide. All you have to do is visit your dentist to discuss your condition.

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Often, people don’t think about their dentist when it comes to treating what can be a surprisingly dangerous problem during sleep. From simple lack of sleep to cardiovascular issues, OSA can have a negative effect on your health.

Thanks to oral appliances, your dentist helps reduce and even prevent the problem by repositioning the lower part of your jaw. This allows your airway to stay open, letting you sleep much more peacefully.

Types of Oral Appliances

The most common sleep apnea oral device is the mandibular advancement or positioning device, aka mouth guard. However, these devices aren’t the same mouthguards you’d use while playing sports.

Instead, these are custom-made to fit your mouth. They force your lower jaw a little down and forward into the correct position for sleep. Without the muscles falling during sleep, you’re able to sleep without any obstruction. Some of these appliances are adjustable, but not all. 

The other option is a tongue retainer that keeps your tongue down. The retainer keeps your tongue from blocking your airway during sleep.

Curing Sleep Apnea

While your dentist can only help with mild to moderate cases of OSA, custom mouthguards can strengthen the muscles in your jaw over time. This strengthening means you may be able to return to normal after a while. It’s not a guarantee, but it is a possibility.

You’ll need to visit your dentist regularly to ensure the device is still fitting correctly. Also, let your dentist know about any changes in how you sleep. If your condition is improving or worsening, you’ll need to see your doctor to see if you still have it or if you need other treatments.

Benefits of Oral Appliances

While it may take some getting used to, oral appliances are less of a hassle to wear than a CPAP device. Plus, they’re far more cost-effective. They’re also easy to take with you when traveling. In fact, your doctor might refer you to your dentist to have a mouthguard created as the first treatment option.

If you have or suspect you have sleep apnea, see how we can help you sleep better.