Dental Appliances Can Help You With Sleep Apnea

Have you been noticing that you've been struggling to stay awake during the day even though you are sure that you slept all night? Have you recently been diagnosed with a sleep disorder? There are options to help you manage your condition. Today, our Cambridge dentists discuss the effects of sleep apnea and how dental appliances can help treat this condition.

What are the 3 main types of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea gets its name due to the word apnea referring to pauses in breathing. These apneas can occur due to a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.

If you experience sleep apnea then it is one of three types. These are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Central sleep apnea 
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)

What are the typical causes of this sleep disorder?

As you fall asleep, the soft palette of your mouth will relax which normally isn't an issue. For those with sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat, blocking the airway.

When the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen ceases, and as a result, your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. Did you know that these apneas can occur up to hundreds of times each and every night? No wonder why it makes patients feel tired!

Are snoring and sleep apnea related conditions?

Symptoms of sleep apnea include heavy snoring, headaches and migraines upon waking, restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, problems focusing, irritability, depression and TMJ symptoms.

While some people with sleep apnea may snore and vice versa, snoring and sleep apnea may not always go hand in hand. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should visit a medical professional so you can receive a proper diagnosis.

Once your issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you get a better night’s rest with a number of treatment options. We will complete a full examination of your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw, and potentially take an x-ray of your airway, to determine the right appliance for your needs.

How can a dental appliance help to manage the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Dental appliances can help by positioning your lower jaw further forward, effectively pulling your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate to open your airway. Some of the benefits of these dental appliances include:

  • Portable
  • Easy to care for
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Easy to insert and remove
  • Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
  • Convenient for travel

Why is it important to treat the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Deep sleep is needed in order to allow your body and brain the chance to repair itself. This is actually able to help your overall quality of life and reduce the risk of developing a serious complication caused by sleep apnea.

Complications can include a wide range of conditions from metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. You may also experience heart problems, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and resistance to insulin. Because of your daytime fatigue, you may be at an increased risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.

When they help you treat sleep apnea, your dentist helps to protect your overall health.

If you would like more information about how we can help treat your sleep apnea symptoms, contact the dentists at Ainslie Street Dental Centre.

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