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How We Help Patients with Sleep Apnea

Apr 11, 2023
If you have sleep apnea, you might not think to turn to your dentist for treatment, but we’re actually one of the best places to start. Keep reading to learn more about our role in helping you manage sleep apnea.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night gasping for air? Has your partner told you that you snore loudly or stop breathing during the night? If yes, you may have a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition where your breathing stops and starts during sleep, leading to poor quality sleep and various health issues.

You may be surprised to learn it's possible to stop breathing at night and still wake up in the morning, but a shocking 30 million Americans have this condition. Worse, only 6 million have been diagnosed. 

Fortunately, several effective treatments for sleep apnea exist — and believe it or not, your dentist is a key player.

Our team at Campustown Dental in Ames, Iowa has years of experience identifying the early warning signs of sleep apnea and taking steps to treat it. Here, we explore the finer points of our sleep apnea treatments.

The role of dentists in sleep apnea treatment

Our role in helping with sleep apnea often starts in the very beginning, by catching the telltale symptoms. During your routine dental cleaning, we can tell you have sleep apnea if you have:

  • Weak teeth caused by apnea-related teeth grinding
  • A smaller-than-usual jaw
  • Scalloped tongue
  • Redness or irritation in your throat

Whether or not we're the ones who detect it, we have the treatments you need to manage it. Gone are the days of relying solely on a large, cumbersome continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Today, advanced sleep apnea treatment involves designing and fitting oral appliances that help keep the airway open during sleep. 

Oral appliances are similar to a mouthguard and are custom-made to fit your mouth. They work by holding your lower jaw and tongue forward, preventing them from collapsing and blocking your airway. We specialize in treating sleep apnea but can also work with sleep physicians to provide comprehensive care. 

Different types of oral appliances

Oral appliances aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are a few different types of oral appliances available for sleep apnea treatment, and we recommend a specific appliance depending on the severity of your condition and your individual needs. Here's a closer look at some common oral appliance types used for treating sleep apnea.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

These devices work by holding the lower jaw forward, which helps to keep the airway open during sleep.

Tongue-Retaining Devices (TRDs)

These devices hold the tongue in a forward position to prevent it from blocking the airway.

Combination Devices 

These devices combine the features of MADs and TRDs and are useful for patients with tongue- and jaw-related sleep apnea.

The benefits of oral appliance therapy

Our patients love oral appliance therapy because it's a noninvasive and effective treatment for sleep apnea. Bonus: It doesn't require the upkeep that comes with CPAP machines. Some of the other benefits of oral appliance therapy include:

  • Improved sleep quality
  • Better daytime functioning 
  • Reduced risk of health problems
  • Easy to use 

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have long-term health implications if left untreated. Fortunately, you have access to our experienced dentists, who can effectively manage it. If you suspect sleep apnea, don't wait to discuss your treatment options with us. Call or click to schedule an appointment with us today.