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The Link Between Dentistry and Sleep Apnea

Do you snore loudly or awaken suddenly in the middle of the night, gasping for breath? You likely have obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when your airway narrows or collapses during slumber, causing an extended pause in breath. The brain senses the lack of oxygen and wakes you up — meaning you have a poor quality of sleep and experience deprivation of oxygen. These lapses in breath can happen hundreds of times per night.

Obstructive sleep apnea is often associated with a large tongue, enlarged tonsils, advanced age, and obesity. Without treatment, sleep apnea can contribute to daytime sleepiness that can interfere with work and even lead to impaired driving. It may also play a role in hypertension, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, and stroke. 

A CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine is a common solution for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. This bulky, loud device does keep air flowing through your airway, but isn’t very portable or comfortable to wear as you sleep.

Dentistry solutions are available, especially if your sleep apnea is due to the size and positioning of your neck, jaw, tongue, tonsils, and other tissue near the back of the throat that directly affects airflow. 

At Advanced Care Dentistry, the providers evaluate your oral structures to determine if a simple oral appliance can keep your airway open. Read on to learn more.

How do I know I have sleep apnea?

You should suspect sleep apnea if your partner reports that you sleep loudly and/or they observe you waking up for short moments during the night. You might also have a dry mouth upon waking and morning headaches. Daytime sleepiness is another indication of sleep apnea.

Your diagnosis should be confirmed by your primary care physician or a sleep specialist after a thorough evaluation of your medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic testing. 

How can dentistry help with sleep apnea?

When Thomas O. Marxen, DDS, MSD, and Andrew Keith, DDS, do your evaluation, they screen you for obstructive sleep apnea risk factors, like large tonsils, large neck circumference, and a large overbite or underbite. These features are correctable with properly fitted oral appliances that are a viable alternative to the CPAP machine. 

The SomnoDent AvantTM device successfully eases the symptoms of sleep apnea, including heavy snoring, compromised sleep quality, and gasping or choking in the middle of the night. It’s a slim, strong device with a fit customized to you.

The mouthpiece holds your jaw and/or tongue in a specific position so as to keep the airway open. If it’s determined that your sleep apnea is due to oral structural abnormalities, the dental appliance is an excellent solution that’s more comfortable for you and your sleeping partner and easily taken with you on the go. 

Achieving a healthy weight, changing your sleep position to your side, and quitting smoking can also help with sleep apnea and are smart changes to make along with the dental appliance.

Advanced Care Dentistry works directly with your primary care physician and any specialists to ensure you’re getting the care for your sleep apnea that you need. 

To find out more about sleep apnea treatments, call Advanced Care Dentistry in Woodinville, Washington today or use this website to make an appointment.

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