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How Dentistry Can Treat Your Sleep Apnea

Sep 01, 2023
When you have a sleep disorder, the last place you look may be your dentist, but dentists are often on the front lines of sleep apnea. We’ve got all the details on how our dentistry treatments can help with your sleep apnea issues.

Sleep apnea is a persistent sleep disorder that disrupts your days and wreaks havoc on your nights — but you’re probably not considering a trip to the dentist for relief. 

Here, Drs. Scott McPherson and Jason Brown and the rest of our team at Campustown Dental in Ames, Iowa explain how we help you overcome sleep apnea symptoms. 

Defining sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in your throat that support your soft palate, uvula, tonsils, throat, and tongue relax as you sleep. 

When those muscles relax too much, your airway narrows or closes completely, making it difficult (sometimes impossible) to get enough air. As a result, your blood oxygen levels dip and trigger a reaction in your brain that rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airways and breathe again. 

Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea where your brain doesn't communicate properly with your body to facilitate normal breathing. It’s possible to have complex or combination sleep apnea where you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea can cause you to snore loudly and/or wake suddenly, choking and gasping for air. In the worst cases of sleep apnea, this sleep-snore-wake cycle can happen 30 times an hour. 

If you’re hardly sleeping, the effects spill over into the morning and the rest day, leaving you weighed down by:

  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability


These daytime disturbances are sometimes frustrating and even debilitating, but they could be the least of your worries. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to various chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosing sleep apnea

Often, the first sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring, but not everyone with sleep apnea snores like a grizzly bear. A sleep study can quickly reveal disturbances in your sleeping patterns and diagnose you with sleep apnea. 

Because you can’t always rely on snoring to alert you, make sure you bring up your concerns to your primary care physician so they can order a sleep study. 

Dentistry and sleep apnea

If you find out you have sleep apnea, you may be headed for our dentist’s chair. In the past, the best way to treat sleep apnea was to use a cumbersome CPAP machine, but now there’s a better way. 

At Campustown Dental, we offer customized dental appliances that fit over your upper and lower teeth and help you hold your jaw in the optimal position while you sleep. Even if your muscles relax, your airways remain open, and you can breathe easy and get the restful sleep you’ve been dreaming of. 

We also walk you through a few other ways to manage and treat sleep apnea, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and even changing your sleeping position. These simple lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in keeping your airways open while you sleep. 

Just found out you have sleep apnea? Don’t wait to get help. Call our friendly staff at 515-292-7262 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment to get started today.