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How a Family Dentist Can Address Sleep Apnea
If you are struggling with sleep apnea, you need to address the condition right away. This is not an issue that will generally go away on its own. It is also a serious problem that can lead to severe health challenges. Luckily, your dentist is a good resource to turn to for help. Your dentist is concerned about not only your teeth and gum but with how issues in your mouth affect your health. There are ways to correct this problem and help you breathe well at night again.
An understanding of sleep apnea
A person with this condition will stop and restart breathing during the night while sleeping. The interruptions can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. There are two types of this illness: central and obstructive. Dentists can treat the latter, which happens when there is blockage in the airway, preventing effective breathing.
While a person is asleep, enlarged tissue or the tongue can obstruct the throat, preventing air from getting in and out. Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular problems, including stroke and heart attack. A person with this illness may feel groggy or exhausted in the morning. Irritability and difficulty focusing are also symptoms.
The dentist will begin by examining the patient to determine where the blockage is occurring. There will also be a series of questions, including how long the patient has experienced symptoms and how severe the breathing problems have been. The dentist will likely speak to the patient’s bed partner, where applicable, for more information. X-rays can also help to determine whether the patient has excess tissue in the mouth blocking the airway.
Often, the most common treatment a dentist will use for sleep apnea is a mouthguard. This device will be similar to what a dentist may recommend for a person who struggles with teeth grinding. The mouthguard fits over the teeth and pulls the jaw forward. This opens the airway more while the person sleeps. To fit the patient with a mouthguard, the dentist will make impressions of the mouth and make a model. Adjustments to the mouthguard may be necessary over time.
Another option for treating sleep apnea is to fit the patient with a tongue depressor. This device holds the tongue in place. This will keep it from rolling to the back of the mouth. The patient only wears it while sleeping.
In more serious cases of sleep apnea, the dentist may recommend surgery. Different procedures can remove excess tissue from the mouth that may be blocking the airway. This could include removing tonsils or adenoids. X-rays and a thorough examination are necessary before deciding to do surgery.
You can rest soundly at night again
Living with sleep apnea has many health implications. Aside from respiratory and cardiovascular troubles, you may have trouble sleeping. If you are worried about your condition, or if your partner has this illness, talk to your dentist. You can begin working on treatment plans to restore your health.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Do I Have Sleep Apnea in Denver, CO.
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