Treating Sleep Apnea With Dental Appliances
Solving The Problem of Sleep Apnea
Dr. Senan K. Ziadeh and his team know that no price can be placed on a good night’s sleep. And for the good folks of McAllen, TX who suffer from sleep apnea, sleep is more precious than gold. Some surgeries can help fix this issue, but they can be expensive and require long and painful recovery time. However, there are options for people who prefer a more non-invasive approach.
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What Is Sleep Apnea?
- Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which normal breathing patterns are disrupted intermittently, causing explosive snoring, grunting, or gasping for air. The three main kinds of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, in which muscles in the throat relax and block your airways.
- Central sleep apnea, in which your brain fails to send the proper signals to control your breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea, which presents as a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
The symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea often overlap, which can make it difficult to determine which condition you have. The most common side effects of each type of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Cessation of breathing during sleep
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Dry mouth
- Headaches upon waking up
While loud snoring is one of the major symptoms of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has this condition. In addition, not every sleep apnea sufferer snores. If you have irregular breathing patterns while sleeping or trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, be sure to talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis.
Sleep is one of the essential processes of life. Getting insufficient sleep consistently has several adverse effects that can dramatically affect your mental and physical health. Leaving sleep apnea untreated can lead to insomnia, which leads to a deterioration of your mental processes and an increase in stress responses in your day-to-day life.
There are also complications related to the condition itself. Sudden decreases in blood oxygen levels while sleeping can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. There is also an increased risk of complications following non-sleep apnea-related surgical procedures due to a combination of anesthesia relaxing your muscles even further and obstructed breathing being worsened while lying on your back.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
For severe cases of sleep apnea, people whose sleep apnea is caused by issues with jaw structure, or cases where other treatments have failed, there are several surgical procedures available. But, in milder cases, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or quitting smoking. If these methods fail, your doctor may recommend a dental appliance for sleep apnea.
Traditionally, mild cases of sleep apnea are treated with a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine. This device delivers air pressure directly into your airways through a mask that fits over your nose or both your nose and mouth and is held in place by straps while you sleep. The air pressure from a CPAP machine is greater than the surrounding air pressure, which helps to keep your airways open. Although the CPAP machine is the traditional treatment method, it can be highly uncomfortable for the first few weeks of use and takes time to get used to. As a result, many people even give up on using it, citing a worsening of their inability to sleep due to feelings of confinement in the mask as the reason.
For this reason, dental appliances offer a much more comfortable alternative. These appliances are designed to reposition your jaw or your tongue to keep your airways open and allow you to breathe continuously. In addition, they are more portable, comfortable, easier to care for, and quieter than a CPAP machine. There are several different devices available from your orthodontist, and you may need to try several before you and your dentist find one that is right for you.
These appliances include:
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is the most commonly used dental appliance for sleep apnea treatment. Much like a mouth guard used in sports, MADs fit over your upper and lower dental arches. They have metal hinges and screws that make it possible for the lower jaw to be eased forward. Some MADs even allow you to control the degree of advancement.
- Tongue retaining device. Used less commonly than a MAD, this device acts as a splint that holds the tongue in place to keep your airway open.
Fabrication & Fitting Of Your Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea
On your first appointment for a dental appliance fitting, your dentist will consult with you about the benefits of treatment with a dental appliance. You will be given information on the cost of the treatment, what to expect, and any potential side effects. Afterward, your dentist will complete a clinical evaluation. This will include an examination of your teeth, tongue, jaw, and airways and may also involve X-rays of your mouth.
Once this is done, your dentist will compile impressions and digital imprints of your mouth to be sent to a laboratory, where your dental appliance will be customized and fabricated. Then, you will return to your dentist’s office to have the appliance fitted. Finally, your dentist will adjust the appliance for maximum comfort and effectiveness. Afterward, you will be given information on how to clean and care for your dental appliance. You may even be scheduled for a sleep study to determine the effectiveness of your new dental appliance.
Are Dental Appliances Safe?
Despite concerns that you may have about plastic devices in your mouth while you sleep, dental appliances are perfectly safe. A custom-fitted dental appliance should not cause excessive discomfort while you sleep, though there may be some mild discomfort while initially getting used to having your jaw or tongue held in place. Your dentist can make adjustments if need be, so be sure to communicate and schedule regular appointments to ensure that a dental guard for sleep apnea is still right for you.
The Cost Of Dental Appliances
Most insurance plans at least partially cover these devices if they are being used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, but not if they are being used for a simple case of snoring. Dental appliances tend to be more affordable than most CPAP machines and cost far less than surgical procedures. The price for a dental appliance varies depending on what device you receive, the complexity of the initial examination, and your geographical location.
Let Us Help You Treat Your Sleep Apnea
Senan Orthodontic Studios has proudly served the patients of McAllen, TX, providing them with a comfortable, friendly, and relaxing office environment. Our professionals emphasize communication, personal attention, and building a solid relationship with their patients over the course of offering quality care for all of their dental needs. Contact us for a complimentary consultation, where we will create your orthodontic record through a thorough exam, discuss your needs and goals, and provide you with a comprehensive sleep apnea treatment plan that will ensure that you get the good night’s sleep you deserve.