Struggling with Sleep Apnea? Our Statesville Dentist May Be Able to Help

If you’re struggling with sleeplessness, painful snoring, and breathing difficulties, you might be able to find relief at an unlikely place: the dentist’s office. Dentists are often the first medical providers to diagnose sleep disorders, as many sleep disturbances are caused by inadequate oral health. Below is more information about how our Statesville dentist can help those with sleep apnea and similar conditions.

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper airways close during sleep, causing the patient to experience repeated breathing interruptions throughout the night. Pauses in-between breaths can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 30 or more times per hour. In more severe cases, sleep apnea can deprive the patient of oxygen to the point that they experience a stroke or heart attack. Therefore, if you suspect that you have sleep apnea, it is important to treat it as a serious issue, as it can become life-threatening.

With that said, while there have been some high-profile deaths linked to sleep apnea, such as Judge Antonin Scalia, the long-term consequences are actually more dangerous. Gasping for breath and waking up repeatedly not only diminishes sleep quality and causes fatigue; it is also linked with high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

How Your Dentist Can Help Sleep Apnea

There are multiple reasons why the airway becomes obstructed during sleep apnea. The muscles in the back of the throat might be weak; the tongue might be too large; or the jaw might be too small. In order to identify the exact issue, a physician or sleep disorder specialist will usually conduct a sleep study, in which the patient is observed and diagnosed while they sleep.

In some instances, your dentist may be able to resolve the problem with a sleep apnea dental appliance. These include:

  • Mandibular advancement appliances, which open the airway by moving the lower jaw forwards
  • Tongue-retaining appliances, which hold the tongue forwards
  • Palatial lifting devices, which lift the soft palate or fleshy, flexible area towards the back of the mouth

Oral appliance therapy is one of the most effective treatments for sleep apnea, and in some cases, can help patients avoid having to use a CPAP machine. If you are struggling with sleep apnea, give our Statesville dentist a call today to see what we can do for you!