If you've recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be looking for anything that can give you some relief. There are many products and procedures, from breathing strips to throat surgery, that profess to offer a cure for sleep apnea. However, one such treatment is often overlooked -- despite being as close as your dentist's office. Read on to learn more about how some dental devices may be able to help you sleep more soundly.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder. Although doctors aren't always sure what causes sleep apnea, for many, this issue arises when excess skin from the roof of your mouth and front of your throat "falls back" while you're relaxed and asleep. This skin can temporarily block your airway, causing you to wake up without even knowing it. For suffers of severe sleep apnea, this process can repeat itself hundreds of times per night, causing you to feel poorly rested once you wake for the day.
In addition to frustration from lack of sleep, sleep apnea can also lead to other health problems, including high blood pressure or cardiovascular issues. Because those who are overweight or obese are more likely than their thinner counterparts to suffer from sleep apnea, this condition can exacerbate problems that may already exist due to weight (such as high cholesterol). Treating your sleep apnea will not only help you finally get a good night's sleep, but can improve your health and help you avoid severe problems down the line.
What dental treatments are available to help combat sleep apnea?
One effective and non-invasive way to treat your sleep apnea is the use of a custom-fitted nighttime mouth guard. These mouth guards are designed to prevent any excess skin or tissue in the back of your throat from obstructing your airway and are often sufficient by themselves to cure your apnea. You (or your partner) will also notice a decrease in the frequency and volume of your snoring as you no longer need to manually clear your airway to breathe.
If your sleep apnea is caused by a wayward tongue, rather than excess tissue in the back of your throat, another type of retaining device may also provide some relief. This device helps hold your tongue in place, preventing it from falling back to cover your airway. Although the feeling of this device can take some getting used to, any initial discomfort will pale in comparison to the relief felt after your first night of uninterrupted sleep. Additionally, after using these devices on a regular basis, you may be able to "train" your tongue or the tissue in the back of your mouth to fall a different way, helping you wean yourself from the use of these devices. For more information on these devices or how a dentist can help your sleep apnea, contact a professional like those at Glenmore Family Dental Care.