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What Oral Appliances Are Used in Sleep Medicine Dentistry to Treat Sleep Apnea?
Treating sleep apnea does not necessarily have to involve wearing a CPAP machine while sleeping. There are alternatives to battling this condition and breathing effectively throughout the night. Your dentist may recommend that you wear oral appliances, which can open your airway. There are a couple of different options to consider, depending on the severity of these issues. Your dentist will know which method makes the most sense for your needs.
An explanation of obstructive sleep apnea
This condition occurs when an individual stops and starts breathing repeatedly during sleep time. The breathing interruptions could last only a few seconds but could be dangerous as long as a few minutes. Some people have this condition because of lapses in the brain sending signals to the respiratory system. However, it is also common to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. This is when something blocks the airway, preventing the person from breathing properly. This can happen due to enlarged tissues in the mouth or neck, and the effects can be serious.
Many people first visit a general physician or a sleep doctor to determine whether they have sleep apnea. Dentists focus on the health of the teeth and gums. But this professional also has the knowledge and training to diagnose and treat this breathing problem. The dentist would first examine the patient and look for abnormalities in oral tissues. There would also be a series of X-rays. The dentist could then develop a proper treatment plan for the patient.
Wearing a tongue depressor
For some patients struggling with sleep apnea, the tongue keeps air from getting into the lungs. When an individual lies down at night, the tongue falls to the back of the throat, blocking the airway. If this is the case, the dentist might prescribe a tongue depressor. This appliance will hold the tongue in place, preventing it from moving. To make sure the appliance fits correctly, the dentist would take impressions of the mouth. The dentist may also make adjustments to the device as needed.
Wearing a mouthguard
When other issues are at play, including enlarged tissues in the mouth and throat, a mouthguard may be the right approach. First, the dentist would make impressions to ensure that the appliance fit over the teeth and jaw. The patient would wear it at night while asleep. The mouthguard pushes the jaw forward and down. This will open the airway more to permit enough oxygen into the body. The mouthguard would be custom-made for each patient.
A good way to breathe well at night
Sleep apnea can have severe consequences. Without the right treatment, you could suffer cardiovascular problems and develop life-threatening conditions. Your dentist will closely evaluate your symptoms and determine which type of oral device to use. If you wear it every night, you should notice a significant difference in your sleep and ability to breathe. Call your dentist today and schedule a time when you can discuss your needs. Your dentist will discuss the ways in which you can treat this health condition.
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