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Can a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

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Can a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

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Do you feel very tired during the day, even if you slept for a sufficient number of hours? Do you have a hard time staying asleep at night? If so, you may suffer from a condition known as sleep apnea. Here are the common signs, symptoms, and our treatment options. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common condition that occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, preventing adequate airflow through the night. This is what is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If the brain doesn’t alert the body to breathe by sending signals, that condition is known as central sleep apnea. However, some people could have a combination of both. 

Causes of Sleep Apnea

OSA happens when the airway is blocked during sleep. Over the years, multiple factors have been found to increase a person’s risk of blockage. The Sleep Foundation explains those risks to be:

  • Anatomical characteristics. The size and positioning of a person’s neck, jaw, tongue, tonsils, and other tissue near the back of the throat can affect airflow. 
  • Obesity. Being overweight is one of the leading causes of OSA and is an underlying risk factor in up to 60% of OSA cases. When a person is obese, the airway is narrowed. 
  • Use of sedatives or alcohol. Sedative medications and drugs, along with alcohol, can relax the tissue in the throat, making it easier to become obstructed. 
  • Family history. Those who have close relatives with OSA are more likely to develop the condition themselves.
  • Using cigarettes. People who smoke, especially heavily, have been shown to have OSA at a higher rate. 
  • Sleeping on your back. This sleeping position makes it easier for the airway to collapse and cause blockages. 
  • Nasal congestion. People who can’t easily create through the nose due to congestion are more likely to experience OSA.
  • Hormone abnormalities. Those with hormone conditions, like hypothyroidism, may increase the risk of OSA by causing the swelling of tissue near the airway and contributing to their risk of obesity. 

Signs of Sleep Apnea

You might suffer from sleep apnea if you experience the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and personality changes
  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Choking or gasping sensations during sleep
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Awakening with a dry or sore throat 
  • Difficulty concentrating 

Further, there could be more signs that you’re not getting enough sleep. Noticeable signs that you’re not sleeping well could include:

  • Memory issues 
  • Trouble with thinking and concentration
  • Mood changes
  • Weakened immunity
  • Risk for diabetes
  • Low sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Poor balance 

As you can tell, it is important for your overall health to get an average of eight hours of sleep each night. 

OSA Treatment Options

If you have noticed the signs above in yourself or a loved one, contact our office now. Dr. Berry knows how to treat obstructive sleep apnea. One possible treatment for mild-to-moderate OSA is a custom-made oral appliance. This oral appliance is custom fit to your mouth and is only worn while you sleep at night. This device works by preventing obstructions in your airway throughout the night, allowing you to create continuously. 

Oral appliance therapy is worn only during sleep, and fits like an orthodontic retainer. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine explains that it supports the jaw in a forward position, which helps you maintain an open upper airway. Research has proven that oral appliance therapy is one of the most effective treatment options for snoring and OSA. 

Does a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea? 

Dentists who have training in treating sleep apnea, like Dr. Berry, can help you overcome the condition. Dentists first pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy for OSA treatment and snoring in adults. Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for OSA and is provided by qualified dentists, like Dr. Berry! 

Risks of Not Treating OSA

If you think you have OSA, it’s important to seek out a diagnosis to get the help you need. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious and life-threatening consequences, like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel
  • Diabetes
  • Depression 
  • Other ailments 

Get Better Sleep with Dr. Berry’s Help

If you suffer from this sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep, don’t wait any longer to get it treated. For more information on how we can treat sleep apnea in Broomfield, Colorado and the surrounding areas, call our Mountain Aire Dentistry team today at (303)-731-7755.