Sleep apnea is a common disorder, one that many people associate with irritating snoring. However, this condition is more than just nighttime noise. Those with sleep apnea experience an obstruction of air, which can lead to a number of symptoms. From shortness of breath to chronic fatigue, it’s a problem that typically requires (relatively) immediate treatment.
How Can a Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?
Dentists work with the muscles in the mouth and throat on a regular basis, so they understand how air can become constricted at night and what it takes to restore the breath. There are two major types of sleep apnea, but the most common one is OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea).
With this condition, the passage of air is blocked for a few seconds or less at a time. It may be accompanied by snoring, but it doesn’t have to be. In some cases, the person will simply pause their breath and then restart again without anyone being the wiser. They may wonder why they’re tired the next day, and have no explanation.
A dentist can not only help diagnose the issue, they can also recommend treatments that counteract the effects. Some people will be able to beat apnea by making long-term changes in their lives, such as losing weight. In the meantime, they can wear corrective devices, such as a retainer or mouth guard, to reposition the soft tissue while they’re asleep.
CPAP machines are also a common solution for apnea, though it should be noted that their bulkiness can present logistical problems for patients, particularly if they need to do any kind of overnight travel. A dentist can work with you to find the right treatment for you, so you can get a better night’s rest.
Finding a Sleep Apnea Dentist
OSA can be brought on by anything from smoking to obesity. However, some forms of apnea are caused by spinal or brain disorders that affect how the brain signals the body to breathe. Dentists can work with both types of patients and help them find solutions that integrate with their lifestyle.