Sleep apnea is a condition in which someone periodically stops breathing in their sleep. This can cause extreme fatigue, snoring, stress on the heart and lungs, and put you at an increased risk for other health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.
There are two different kinds of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a relaxation of the throat muscles, while central sleep apnea is when your brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
Your dentist can notice the early warning signs of sleep apnea by performing oral exams and taking x-rays of your mouth. They can give you a referral to an ENT or sleep physician where this can be further investigated or a sleep study may be conducted.
Your dentist can address your sleep apnea with dental devices such as CPAP machines, oral appliances, tongue retaining devices, and a mandibular advancement device (MAD).
CPAP Machine: A CPAP machine is a method of delivering steady air pressure through the use of a hose and mask or nosepiece. The CPAP machine pushes against blockages in your airways so your lungs receive a steady supply of oxygen. This prevents you from pausing breathing and waking up in the middle of the night.
ABAP Machine: This machine differs from a CPAP in that it adjusts the air pressure through the night to compensate for any changes in your sleeping position or if medications have altered your breathing. This machine constantly checks your breathing.
BiPAP Machine: BiPAP machines are equipped with two pressure settings for inhalation and exhalation.
Mandibular Advancement Device: Some people have issues with CPAP machines because they feel claustrophobic or like the air pressure is too intense. The next line of defense would be MADs which look like mouth guards or retainers.
Tongue Retaining Device: A splint holds the tongue in place so it doesn’t block your airways
Other oral appliances
Before determining if you are a suitable candidate for a sleep apnea oral device, you need to find out if you have sleep apnea and what the severity is. Oral devices will only work for mild to moderate sleep apnea severity.
If you have severe sleep apnea, then a CPAP machine is still the highest standard of treatment. However, sleep apnea sufferers with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) lower than 15 are not eligible for CPAP machines unless they have other symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension.
At Goldstein Garber & Salama, we can examine your mouth for early warning signs of sleep apnea and treat you with oral devices. Schedule an appointment with us today.