How Can My Dentist Help With My Sleep Apnea? Understanding Your Options

Whether you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect that you may have this sleep disorder, you might be wondering what your options are for treatment. 

But did you know that your dentist may be able to help with sleep apnea? It’s true. Read on, and learn more about how dentistry can help solve sleep apnea from the team at Lakewood Smiles.

Understanding The Basics Of Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA for short. This occurs when the soft tissues of the jaw, palate, and airway relax during sleep, blocking proper breathing for anywhere from 2-10 seconds or longer.

This can occur dozens or hundreds of times per night. In the short term, sleep apnea leads to poor quality sleep, drowsiness, and many other uncomfortable symptoms. And in the long term, it can contribute to the risk of heart attack, stroke, and more.

How Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) Can Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

You may know about CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These devices use a face and nose mask that pumps a stream of pressurized air into the airway, preventing OSA.

But did you know that this is not your only option? A dentist like Dr. Nancy William or Dr. Abraam Girgis may be able to work with you to create a custom-fitted oral appliance.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) uses a special oral appliance that looks similar to a night guard for teeth grinding, or an athletic mouthguard. This appliance shifts the position of your mouth and jaw to promote proper breathing, and prevent your oral tissue from sagging into your airway. 

If you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy, you may be able to treat your apnea without an expensive, bulky, and awkward CPAP machine. Consult with your sleep specialist to learn more, or contact Lakewood Smiles now for more information. 

Understanding The Pros & Cons of Oral Appliances

Not sure if oral appliance therapy is right for you? Here are a few of the pros and cons of choosing oral appliance therapy in Lakewood.

Pros

  • Comfortable, portable, and convenient
  • Requires no power, unlike a CPAP machine
  • Does not restrict sleeping position


Cons

  • Not ideal for severe cases of sleep apnea. A CPAP machine may be recommended for patients with serious airway obstruction problems
  • May be uncomfortable when first wearing the appliance due to bulk & salivation
  • Can cause jaw problems if not fitted perfectly by your dentist

The Pros & Cons of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges consist of two crowns that attach to healthy abutment teeth and support one or more false teeth (pontics) to replace your missing teeth. Here are a few of their pros and cons. 

Pros

  • Will never shift, move or slip – Like implants, bridges won’t move. They are anchored to your teeth using strong, durable dental crowns.
  • Fast treatment – You can often restore your smile in just 2-3 weeks with a dental bridge.
  • Minimally-invasive – Some of your enamel must be removed from the abutment teeth, but there is no need to cut into your gums or jaw bone. 

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan – Bridges usually last between 5-15 years, which is shorter than dental implants, but better than dentures.
  • Requires trimming of healthy teeth – Your abutment teeth must be trimmed down significantly, even if they are healthy, which will weaken them if the bridge ever must be removed.
  • Hard to clean – It will take some practice to get used to cleaning your bridge properly, and you may need special tools like floss tape and interdental brushes.

Contact Lakewood Smiles To See If Oral Appliance Therapy Is Right For You!

At Lakewood Smiles Dentistry, Dr. Nancy William and Dr. Abraam Girgis can create a custom-fitted oral appliance that will help prevent sleep apnea, and provide you with a more restful night of sleep. To see if you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy, contact us online or give us a call at (562) 866-0406 for a consultation at our office in Lakewood.

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