What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder that happens when your breathing stops and resumes while you sleep. Without proper treatment, it can cause something as small as loud snoring or as life-threatening as heart disease. Most cases of sleep apnea are non-life-threatening and can be solved by a special device recommended by Dr. Wolter or your medical healthcare provider.
9 Signs You May Suffer from Sleep Apnea?
The signs and symptoms of different sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Your breathing stops while you sleep
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
How Can My Dentist Help Me With Sleep Apnea?
Dental sleep medicine focuses on the use of oral appliances to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is when the muscles at the back of your throat relax which allows other tissues to block your airway. Sometimes your tongue is the culprit that blocks your airway. Oral appliance therapy is a method of using devices designed to keep your airway open and have you sleeping comfortably through the night.
Oral appliance therapy involves wearing a removable oral piece, which fits like a mouthguard or retainer, as you sleep. There are several types of oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Although each device may look slightly different, there are only two main types of oral appliances:
Mandibular repositioning devices
Mandibular repositioning devices or MRDs reposition your lower jaw forward and slightly downward to keep your airway open while you sleep. The MRD looks just like a sports mouthguard and holds your jaw in a certain alignment. MRDs are the most commonly used oral appliances for sleep apnea.
Tongue retaining devices
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD) hold your tongue in place so that it does not block your airway. TRDs come in different shapes and styles, but the most common looks like a reverse pacifier in which you place your tongue while you sleep.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy.
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:
- Easy to use
- Easy to care for
Dr. Wolter can help you determine which oral appliance might be right to treat your sleep apnea. For more information, please visit our office and discuss your situation with Dr. Wolter.