Sleep apnea is a sleep disordered breathing condition that affects millions of Americans. Many people are surprised to learn that our dentists can treat a sleep apnea. Because the shape and position of the jaws has an important effect on the size of the airway, our dentists play an important role in recognizing and treatment this disorder.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea literally means a disruption in breathing while someone sleeps. The type of sleep apnea we treat is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, sometimes referred to as OSA. This involves a restriction or obstruction of the airway in the throat region. Usually this narrowing or closing of the airway results from the tissues surrounding the airway, the size of the upper jaw, and the position of the lower jaw. Excessive weight in the face and neck can impinge on the airway. An undersized upper jaw leads to an anatomically small airway. A lower jaw with a retruded position or simply open can also pinch the airway shut.
How Can Premier Dental of Ohio’s Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea?
The primary method of dental treatment for sleep apnea involves the use of oral appliances that hold the lower jaw in an optimal position for breathing, like a sleep apnea mouth guard. By keeping the teeth together or slightly protruding the lower jaw forward, the airway remains open. Because these appliances must fit the teeth perfectly, your dentist must make and monitor them.
At Premier Dental of Ohio, we also understand the underlying causes of anatomically small airways. This means that we can use orthodontic treatment to help a child grow and develop the upper jaw to a size that promotes healthy breathing. We can also use orthodontics in our adult patients to align the teeth into a more favorable position for breathing.
Why is Treating Sleep Apnea Important?
People who suffer from sleep apnea have a high risk for other health problems. When your body does not receive enough oxygen, you cannot achieve a good quality of sleep. Good sleep is necessary to maintain good overall health. People with sleep apnea have a much higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, than people without sleep apnea. Some studies suggest that sleep apnea also increases your risk for various cancers.
People with sleep apnea find it more difficult to lose weight. Because excessive weight is actually one of the causes of sleep apnea, this can become a vicious cycle. When you do not breathe well at night, you are too tired to exercise and maintain healthy habits.
If I Have Sleep Apnea, Should I See My Doctor or My Dentist?
Both! Most patients will need to work with both their doctors and dentists to find the best solution to treating sleep apnea and resuming good sleep habits. We are proud to work with many wonderful doctors in the area to provide you with the highest quality of care.
Dental Treatments for Sleep Apnea
If you are struggling with chronic fatigue and getting a good night sleep, our board-certified dentists may be able to help. Schedule an appointment at one of our Central Ohio dental offices and talk to your dentist about your concerns. We can assess the shape of your jaw and teeth to determine if a dental appliance can help open your airways while you sleep.