Everyone snores every now and then, but it becomes an issue when it occurs chronically. In addition to being a nuisance, snoring can also be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or other health conditions. Here, our team at Chisholm Trail Smile Center explore dentistry’s role in treating sleep apnea and snoring:
When should you see a doctor about your snoring?
Not all snorers need to see a doctor, but if you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment for further evaluation:
Chest pain during the night
Excessive daytime drowsiness
Noticeable pauses in breathing during sleep
Sore throat in the morning
Choking or gasping at night
Usually, people with OSA snore uninterrupted during the night, broken up by brief pauses where breathing ceases or nearly ceases. Because of the increased risks associated with sleep apnea, it’s a good idea to have your case examined by a professional.
How We Diagnose Sleep Apnea
There are a variety of tests that can determine whether or not a person has obstructive sleep apnea. One option is a home sleep test, which you wear while you sleep in the comfort of your own home. This device collects data about your sleeping patterns, which will later be examined by experts in order to properly examine your case.
Here at Chisholm Trail Smile Center, Dr. Bridges works closely with a local sleep specialist, Dr. Jones, so you can ensure your diagnosis is solid. Dr. Bridges himself is also a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and can provide you with a wealth of information on the subject.
What treatment options you decide to pursue depend on your unique situation, which you will discuss with your sleep specialist and dental professionals. Depending on the severity of your case, you may only have to make minor lifestyle adjustments, like quitting smoking or losing weight. However, in moderate to severe cases, doctors may recommend other options, such as:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): For those with moderate to severe sleep apnea, this machine delivers greater air pressure to your lungs while you sleep. While it is one of the most common and reliable treatment methods available, it takes time to adjust to using the device nightly.
Oral appliances: Oral appliances can help mitigate the problem by propping the mouth open just enough to allow for increased airflow in the upper airway. The specifics of oral appliance therapy is discussed below in more detail.
Treatment for associated conditions: Sometimes, sleep apnea is caused by associated medical issues, such as heart disorders. Treating these other conditions first may help improve one’s sleep apnea.
Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, you may need to combine multiple treatment methods, or perhaps simple lifestyle changes are all you need. Always consult with your sleep specialist and dental professional, to ensure you’re receiving the best treatment possible.
How Dentistry Can Help Treat Sleep Apnea
For many patients, oral appliance therapy proves to be an effective solution that can at least help mitigate some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Custom-designed for your mouth using digital scans, your oral appliance fits comfortably in the mouth, almost like a retainer. By keeping the jaw in a forward position while you sleep, the oral appliance allows for clear, unobstructed airflow through your upper airway. As an added bonus, the device is compact, portable, and discreet, so you can take it with you anywhere you go!
Looking for help diagnosing and treating your sleep apnea?
At Chisholm Trail Smile Center, our office is there for all of your dental needs. If you think you may have sleep apnea and don’t know where to turn, pay us a visit at our Duncan, OK dental office. We can help guide you through the diagnosis and explore potential treatment plans together. To contact us today, reach out online or give us a call at (580) 255-4880!