When you think about services your dentist can provide, you’ll typically think of cleanings, extractions and implants. But did you know your dentist also may be able to help you with sleep apnea? “Dental sleep medicine” is a rapidly evolving field. One of the most prominent areas of dental sleep medicine is sleep apnea treatment.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing is disrupted during sleep, leading to pauses in their breathing or shallow breaths. This can cause them to wake up feeling unrested, and if untreated, can lead to long-term heart or respiratory complications. People with sleep apnea may be unaware they have it, as it can be difficult to detect. Treatment can help to reduce the effects of sleep apnea and improve quality of life.

How can your dentist help?

If you are familiar with sleep apnea, you may already be aware of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines. These machines are widely used to treat sleep apnea and are often very effective. However, these machines can be quite loud, uncomfortable and inconvenient to take with you when traveling.

An oral appliance is an effective way to treat sleep apnea. These appliances are custom-fitted to your teeth like a mouthguard, and comfortably hold your jaw forward to keep your airways open as you sleep. This method is often preferred over CPAP machines or other electronic breathing equipment, as it is silent, more comfortable, and more convenient. While it may not work for everyone, an oral appliance can be a great solution for those living with sleep apnea.

The right sleep apnea device for you.

When searching for an oral appliance to manage your sleep apnea, it is essential to select a high-quality device and have it properly fitted by your dentist. The fitting process can take as little as one visit or may need to be completed in a subsequent visit. Your dentist will take the necessary measurements and have the device ready for you when you return.

It is not recommended to purchase over-the-counter oral appliances to treat sleep apnea, as they are not FDA approved and may be uncomfortable and ineffective. In some cases, using an unapproved device could even make your symptoms worse. It is important to consult a dental professional for the most effective treatment.

If you are looking for a treatment option for sleep apnea, there are many available. From oral appliances to CPAP machines, breathing equipment, surgery, or weight loss, there is something that can work for you. Before making a decision, it is important to talk to your primary care physician to discuss the various options. If it looks like an oral device is the best fit, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can give you the information you need to make an informed decision, including the pros and cons of different types of oral appliances.

Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea and your doctor determines an oral appliance is a viable option for you, we can help. Give us a call at (509) 926-6261 to learn more about oral appliances for sleep apnea or any other dental concerns.