With the proper training, your Austin TX dentist, can treat mild and moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which the patient’s breathing is repeatedly disrupted during sleep. Often, patients will notice decreased snoring and sleep apnea when an oral appliance is used to properly position the mouth and tongue during sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea most often occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapse while a patient is sleeping, blocking the airway.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea may include snoring, sleep disruptions or insomnia, lack of energy and confusion. Obesity is often correlated with sleep apnea, although the former is not a symptom of the latter. Patients’ spouses or partners may describe noticeable pauses in breathing. Patients with sleep apnea may also notice that their mouths or throats are particularly dry upon waking.
Patients who suspect they have sleep apnea should visit their primary care physicians for a referral to a sleep study, which can provide a definitive diagnosis. The sleep study will also help to determine the severity of your case, which will in turn shape the treatment approach.
For mild or moderate sleep apnea, a tongue retaining appliance keeps the tongue forward in the mouth so that it is not able to obstruct the airway. Other appliances promote a jaw position, with the lower jaw protruding, which keeps the tongue forward in the mouth. Although some over-the-counter appliances are available, patients are best served by appliances custom-designed by dentists. These devices offer a better fit.
For patients with severe sleep apnea, physicians may prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which requires the patient to wear a mask during the night. Some patients may find the CPAP mask to be uncomfortable and as disruptive to the sleep as the sleep apnea was. Those patients may also turn to dentists to see if oral appliances would be an effective alternative.
Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, contact our Balcones Family Dental team and ask what treatments might be available.