How Can My Dentist Help Sleep Apnea?

Generally, snoring is more of a nuisance than an issue, especially when it is mild. Deep sleep and stuffy noses can bring on a bout of snoring, which is nothing to worry about. However, chronic or extremely loud snoring can be an indicator of a larger problem. Snoring can be a symptom of a potentially dangerous sleep disorder called sleep apnea. 

Woman holds her ears as her partner sleeps and snores sleep apnea dentist in Ardmore Pennsylvania

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects a person’s oxygen levels while they sleep. If you go for long periods of time without breathing, it can create lasting effects on your overall health. For example, sleep apnea can affect your immune system. This is because your body releases stress hormones—cortisol and adrenaline—when you stop breathing. With sleep apnea, you may stop breathing tens or even hundreds of times. Your body cannot handle the stress for long periods, so your immune system will become less effective. This can leave you susceptible to illnesses. 

Long-term effects of sleep apnea can affect your heart, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke. It is essential to seek treatment if you have sleep apnea. If you have sought treatment, it is vital to stay consistent. This is because you have a higher chance of sudden death with sleep apnea. It may be difficult to remember or frustrating; however, your health is important. Some treatment options may be better than others.

If you want to hear about alternative sleep apnea treatments, you should talk to your dentist

Treatment Options from Your Dentist

It may seem unlikely, but your dentist can help you on your sleep apnea journey. If you have mild obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist can offer treatment. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in your mouth and throat block your airway while you sleep. When you try to breathe, your tongue, soft palate, and tonsils obstruct the flow of oxygen, causing loud snoring or total blockage. 

With obstructive sleep apnea, you can use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This device produces a steady stream of oxygen that keeps your oxygen levels healthy and stable. Additionally, the air prevents a blockage in your airway. A CPAP is a standard device for treatment, especially if you have severe sleep apnea. However, people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea can seek alternative treatment from their dentist. 

Oral appliance therapy is a device that you can insert into your mouth as you sleep. The device will correctly position your jaw and tongue to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. Essentially, the oral appliance keeps your airway open. It aligns your jaw and prevents the soft tissues from blocking your airway. 

Rather than using a CPAP machine, you can use a convenient oral appliance. Your dentist will custom-fit this device to your mouth, making it comfortable. If you travel, you don’t have to worry about carting around a CPAP machine.