What is obstructive sleep apnea and how can your dentist help?

When patients think about sleeping disorders, they often think of conditions such as insomnia or narcolepsy. However, there are other sleeping disorders that many patients have but have not received a proper diagnosis for. This includes obstructive sleep apnea.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Also known as OSA, obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder caused by a blockage in the airways while a patient sleeps. This blockage, which may be caused by excess fat in the neck area, poor jaw alignment, or the tongue falling to the back of the throat, can cause patients to stop breathing. When this occurs, the patient wakes up and starts the cycle of sleep all over again. What happens is patients never reach the restorative level of sleep they need to feel their best each day.

How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?

Obviously, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage, and the best way to treat this is to keep the breathing continued. By removing the obstruction, the airways can stay open and patients can reach the deep sleep they need. To do this, many patients rely on the use of an oral appliance. An oral appliance is a specialized mouthpiece that is made custom for a patient. The mouthpiece, which looks like a mouthguard, is worn when patients sleep to hold down the tongue, realign the jaw, and maintain open airways. This method of treatment is often more desirable than alternatives such as the use of a CPAP machine, which is often uncomfortable and difficult to travel with.

Why visit the dentist?

While some patients comply with their treatment of a CPAP machine, others find it to be problematic for them and they may avoid using it. This leaves their condition untreated. Our dental team is pleased to offer this alternative for patients to improve their overall quality of life and address the sleeping disorder.

Discuss your condition with our team at Peters Dental Associates

Houston, TX area patients who believe they may have the signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are welcome to work with their dentist to get a proper diagnosis and to discuss effective treatment options. Call (281) 486-8061 to request an appointment with Dr. M.H. Peters and find out if oral appliance therapy is right for you!

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