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Can My Dentist Really Treat Me for Sleep Apnea?

sleep apneaSleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can have severe consequences, and affects millions of Americans’ sleep every night.

Sleep apnea refers to episodes, some up to 10 seconds long, where a person cannot breathe while they are asleep. Typically caused by a collapsing airway, sleep apnea is more common in older people, but can affect people of all ages.

A blockage of your airway while you sleep, caused by either your tongue or your throat, is what causes sleep apnea. This results in the body being unable to breathe and waking you up to get you to move. Some people wake up 3 or 5 times a night without realizing it—and others wake up as many as 100 times!

Obviously, this many interruptions results in poor quality sleep, which can affect your health, either by immediate means like accidents due to sleep deprivation or over time, wearing down your overall well-being. Luckily, there are ways to treat sleep apnea.

The Ins and Outs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a general term for “an obstructed airway while you’re sleeping.” This obstruction can be caused your tongue falling back or from the muscles in your throat collapsing slightly. To prevent these obstructions, there are various treatments centered around the concept of keeping the airway open using a mechanical means.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea today is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. This machine, which looks kind of like a fighter pilot’s mask, holds the airway open during the night. However, the machine has a high rejection rate, meaning a lot of people can’t tolerate using it because it’s obstructive and noisy.

The Future of Sleep Apnea

Since the CPAP machine doesn’t work for everyone, the medical field has had to innovate and get creative when it comes to solving this problem. The leading field in this fight is dentistry. A dentist’s intimate knowledge of teeth, gums, and the jaw make them experts in how to help adjust the position of the tongue or other tissues. Today, the best way to fight sleep apnea is with dental treatment.

To that end, dentists have made advancements by creating devices like the FBS (Full Breath Solution) sleep appliance. A sleep appliance is a general term for something you put in your mouth to help keep your airway open at night. This device is painless and doesn’t get in your way, letting you have full range of motion in your mouth while preventing the breathing issues that trademark sleep apnea.

In moderate cases, these appliances show a lot of promise for helping those who suffer at night. The devices acts to keep the tongue in place, as well as holding open the airway without the pressure and annoyance of the CPAP machine.

If you believe you’re suffering from sleep apnea, or have general questions about the quality of your sleep, contact us at Cardinal Family Dental today. Our expert dentists can help determine if you have cause for concern and help find the best treatment for you.

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