When there is an obstruction in the airway during sleep that results in loud sounds, snoring treatment from a dentist may be beneficial. Nearly everyone snores at some point, but for some individuals, it is a chronic problem. Although surgery may be recommended for severe cases, there are also oral devices that can reduce the…
Finding a Dentist Who is a Sleep Apnea Specialist
Sleep apnea is an under-recognized medical condition that can be diagnosed and treated by a sleep apnea specialist. Sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, heart disease, depression, and even death when sleep apnea goes untreated. Some dental sleep apnea specialists can prescribe appliances or oral mandibular advancement devices that prevent the tongue from blocking the throat or advancing the lower jaw. These devices are an excellent alternative for those who have trouble tolerating a continuous positive airway pressure machine.
What causes obstructive sleep apnea
There are three forms of sleep apnea, but the most common of the three is obstructive sleep apnea, and this is the form that a dentist who is an asleep apnea specialist can help you with. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the muscles in the back of your throat to relax too much. These muscles are there to support the tongue, tonsils, roof of your mouth known as the soft palate, and the teardrop-shaped piece of soft tissue that hangs down from the roof of your mouth, also known as the uvula.
When these muscles become too relaxed, it narrows your airway and brings about a pause in your breathing that will repeat itself during the night as you sleep. This often lowers the oxygen level in your blood and causes a buildup of carbon dioxide. When this happens, your brain senses the pause and briefly rouses you from sleep, alerting you to reopen your airway. This pattern might repeat itself up to 30 times per hour during the night, disrupting your sleep which is why you may feel sleepy during waking hours.
- Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
- Waking abruptly while gasping for air or choking
- Awakening with a dry mouth or a sore throat
- High blood pressure
- Feeling excessively sleepy during the day
- Morning headache
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes such as depression or irritability
- Loud snoring
Your dentist can help with sleep apnea
Once a dentist who is also a sleep apnea specialist has decided you are a candidate for this treatment, he or she will make an impression of your teeth and have the device made. Later they will call you back for a fitting. When you are given the device, you will also be given a morning repositioner to realign your bite each time you remove the appliance.
Using the appliance will keep your airway open and allow you to get a good night's sleep. Getting enough sleep is good for your heart and helps you control your weight. When you sleep better, you make less ghrelin which is the hormone that stimulates appetite, and you make more of the hormone leptin that reduces appetite. Sleep also improves memory and concentration. An added benefit is that your snoring will be reduced, and for anyone sleeping alongside you or within earshot, they will sleep better, and you will have the peace of mind that you are not just helping yourself but also the ones you care most about.
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