How A Dentist Can Help Manage Your Sleep Apnea

Dentist Blog

Sleep apnea can range from slightly inconvenient to completely debilitating. In its mild forms, other people might be more affected—namely your partner, who is unable to get a good night's sleep due to your snoring. In extreme cases, your sleep apnea can hugely affect your quality of life. Your interrupted sleep at night can result in extreme fatigue, drowsiness, and confusion (so-called brain fog). In certain situations, this can be dangerous. Did you know that one of the medical professionals best suited to help with your sleep apnea is your dentist? 

Unexplained Fatigue

Living with sleep apnea can be distressing and aggravating. You wake up multiple times each night, sometimes feeling as though you're struggling to breathe. Your upper airway becomes repeatedly obstructed, and your breathing is then disrupted. Unable to oxygenate your lungs, your breathing is interrupted, and you awaken—often multiple times each night. Many people are unaware of their obstructive sleep apnea until they see their doctor to complain of extreme, unexplained fatigue.

Dentistry and Sleep

Although you may consult a physician about your symptoms, your necessary treatment for sleep apnea can be performed at a dental clinic. The fields of dentistry and sleep might seem unrelated, so it's reasonable to wonder what a dentist can actually do to help alleviate the troublesome symptoms of your sleep apnea. 

Treatment From a Dentist

Severe cases of sleep apnea may require the patient's breathing during sleep to be regulated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilator machine, more mild cases can often be addressed with a custom oral appliance made by your dentist. This is a device made specifically for your mouth and is designed to keep your airway open during sleep, allowing sufficient oxygen to enter your lungs. The most appropriate device will be decided after a thorough assessment of your symptoms.

Oral Appliances

Your dentist may provide you with a tongue-retaining oral appliance. This is designed to comfortably minimize the movement of your tongue, preventing it from sliding backward and blocking your airways. Alternatively, you may need a mandibular repositioning appliance. This holds your lower jaw downward, which ensures that your airways remain open. Both of these appliances look (and feel) quite similar to a mouthguard, and are designed to be comfortable.

So if sleep apnea is starting to reduce your quality of life, it can be in your best interests to schedule an appointment with your dentist—an appointment where your teeth won't be under discussion.

Reach out to a dentist near you for more information on treatment for sleep apnea.


9 November 2022