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Dental Appliances Can Help You With Sleep Apnea

Sleep disorders can affect your ability to get consistent rest and therefore impact your health. In this post, our Halifax dentists discuss dental appliances that can help you with sleep apnea that some dental offices offer.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes irregular and abnormal pauses in breathing while someone sleeps. These pauses, called apneas, can occur due to a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.

There are three main types of diagnosable sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Central sleep apnea 
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome

What causes sleep apnea?

When the average person drifts to sleep, their throat tissues, soft palate and tongue relax. For individuals with sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat and block 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. These episodes may happen hundreds of times a night, seriously disrupting your sleep.

How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?

Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Headaches and migraines upon waking
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Issues focusing
  • Irritability and depression
  • TMJ symptoms

Though loud snoring is a notorious symptom and may indicate a potentially serious problem, not everyone who has sleep apnea will snore. 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.

What sleep apnea devices or oral appliances can help?

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. These dental appliances are:

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

Why is it important to treat 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.

By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea and are curious about what options are available to you, contact our dentists at Atlantic Dental Centre.

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