Ensuring your body gets enough sleep these days can be challenging, but even moreso if you experience obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) at night. This sleep disturbance can wreak havoc not only on how you feel but also negatively impact your physical and mental well-being.
Fortunately, your trusted dentist can provide you with the beneficial treatments you need to manage the OSA and get a better night’s rest.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where you stop breathing periodically during the night. The common cause for the pauses in breath is a physical blockage of the anatomical airway. This blockage is usually the result of the soft tissues located in the back of your throat collapsing or the tongue sliding back.
Each time this blockage happens, it results in a lack of oxygen which alerts your brain that something is wrong, and you temporarily awaken in order to restart your breathing.
Signs that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea include:
Snorting or making choking sounds during the night (as breathing restarts)
Waking up and feeling a shortness of breath
Extreme drowsiness during the day
While your dentist can treat OSA, you’ll first need a diagnosis by a physician, who is usually a sleep medicine specialist.
7 Benefits of Having a Dentist Treat Your Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can vary depending upon severity. However, oral devices are often prescribed by your dentist to help position the mouth as you sleep, preventing the airway from becoming blocked.
There are numerous benefits for having a dentist treat your obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with oral appliance therapy, including the following seven.
1. Customized Oral Appliance Selection and Fit
Your dentist will conduct thorough examinations of your current dental and periodontal health and also your throat anatomy. Since dentists specialize in oral health, they know what to look for and can easily identify whether or not you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy.
Once it’s determined that an oral device will be helpful to you, one of the following types will most likely be selected and fitted.
Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD): Similar in appearance to mouth guards, MADs slip over your upper and lower teeth with a hinge in the center to keep the two trays connected. Once in place, the device positions the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward as you sleep. This forward positioning prevents the soft tissues in the back of your mouth from moving to block the airway as you relax.
Tongue-Retaining Mouthpiece: A tongue-retaining mouthpiece fits over and around your tongue, holding it in place with light suction. It keeps the tongue from slipping back into your airway while you sleep.
2. Regularly Scheduled Follow-Ups
Once fitted with your oral appliance, you’ll return periodically for a check-up. During these follow-up appointments, your dentist will check the device to make sure it remains effective and may need to readjust the fitting inside your mouth.
You’ll also receive a dental and periodontal exam to ensure they both remain healthy and there are no adverse effects to the treatment.
You can also expect your dentist to frequently communicate with the diagnosing physician so your overall health is monitored as well.
3. More Restful Sleep
With a well-fitting oral device, you can more easily adjust to wearing it at nighttime. As it works to keep your airway open, you’ll receive a more restful sleep, which can make a positive impact on your quality of life.
You’ll begin to notice you feel less drowsy during the day. The morning headache may disappear, and your partner may tell you you no longer snore as you sleep.
4. An Increase in Bodily Well-Being
Sleep is medicine to the body, and without it your well-being can deteriorate. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea interferes with your ability to enter deep sleep, and it is this stage of the sleep cycle that benefits your body’s well-being the most.
With treatment, you’re more likely to enter that deep sleep, allowing your body to naturally go to work restoring your energy, generating new cells, and increasing blood flow to muscles to increase your well-being.
5. Lower Risk of Developing Certain Health Conditions
Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can negatively impact the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, digestive, and nervous systems of the body.
Treatment overseen by your dentist and collaborated with your diagnosing physician can lead to less sleep disturbances and better rest. In turn, you lower your risk for developing certain health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and cancer.
6. Enhanced Memory, Focus, and Productivity
As your treatment continues, you will notice a change in your abilities when it comes to memory, focus, and productivity. With more restful sleep and the ability to reach those deeper levels of the sleep cycle, your brain has a chance to relax and repair itself in ways that contribute to having a better memory and focus. In turn, your productivity can soar.
7. Better Managing of Diabetes
With sleep apnea, you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. With treatment, you experience enhanced insulin resistance which lowers that risk considerably.
If you already have diabetes, sleep apnea left untreated can worsen blood sugar control, making it more difficult to manage effectively. Once you begin treatment, however, you should find your diabetes much more manageable.
As you can see, having your dentist treat your obstructive sleep apnea is highly beneficial in numerous ways, both to your comfort, convenience, and overall health.
Contact Pike & Valega, DDS Today to Discuss Treatment for Your Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference, and when obstructive sleep apnea is interfering, we might be able to help. If you already have a diagnosis or need a referral to a sleep apnea specialist, our team can work with you to determine if oral appliance therapy is an option. Contact Pike & Valega, DDS today and schedule a treatment consultation.