Sleep apnea diagnosis occurs every day across California. Additionally, a lot more people are surrounded by risk factors, which place them at an elevated danger of getting the condition or developing it in the future. You probably have heard about sleep clinics that can assist you in getting a correct diagnosis as well as a treatment plan, and at the same time, have doctors that could help you to lose weight, thereby minimizing symptoms of sleep apnea. However, you might not have realized that your dentist may also help you to relieve sleep apnea. If you are in Encino, CA, and have this condition, consult with the dentists at Encino Dentist dental clinic to find out how it can be treated and the ideal treatment option for you. This article looks at sleep apnea in detail and its treatment options.

Understanding The Sleep Apnea Condition

Sleep apnea refers to a common, severe sleeping disorder, which happens when a person’s regular breathing gets interrupted when sleeping. Snoring is one common feature in patients that have sleep apnea. However, not all people that snore have a sleep apnea disorder. We have two primary kinds of sleep apnea. They include central and obstructive sleep apneas.

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea- This is the most common kind. It occurs when airflow is blocked while sleeping, usually when the soft tissues at the back of your throat collapse. The collapse blocks the passage of oxygen from the airway to the lungs.  Health factors like obesity can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea in adults.  In children, obstructive sleep apnea can be a result of adenoids or enlarged tonsils and dental conditions like a large overbite. Other causes that are not so common include growth or tumor in the child’s airway. Congenital disabilities like Pierre-Robin syndrome and Down syndrome can also cause obstructive sleep apnea. Childhood obesity is also another cause of obstructive sleep syndrome, but it is not linked to this condition as much as adult obesity.
  2. Central sleep apnea- This kind of sleep apnea arises from a complication with how your brain signals your breathing muscles when sleeping. Your airway won’t be blocked or disrupted. Instead, it is your brain that will fail to signal your muscles to breathe, and when this happens, your body will respond as though an interruption occurred. Central sleep apnea may arise with conditions like brain tumors, stroke, heart failure, and brain infections.

Both central and obstructive sleep apneas disrupt sleeping patterns. People who leave their sleep apnea conditions untreated generally wake up the next day feeling sluggish and tired. Sleep apnea that’s left untreated could have a substantial impact on long- and short-term physical and mental health.

Dental Problems that May Arise Due to Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea may have a significant impact on your well-being. It could result in daytime sleepiness because every moment you momentarily stop breathing, you wake up, and this elevates the danger of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, liver problems, congestive heart failure, and other severe health issues. These health problems do not end there. Research has shown that sleep apnea negatively affects a person’s teeth too. The following are the three dental issues you should watch out for in case you are suffering from sleep apnea.

  • Jawbone pain- Sleep apnea is linked to persisting pain disorders, which include jawbone pain like TMD or TMJ. If it’s painful when opening and moving your jawbones, you might be having any of these conditions.
  • Worn-out or cracked teeth- Clenching or grinding your teeth when sleeping is quite common in persons that are suffering from sleep One out of four people that have sleep apnea grind their teeth. When this happens over time, it can lead to tooth sensitivity. In particular cases, it could lead to damaged or cracked teeth. If you’ve sensitive teeth or tired & tight jawbone muscles, this could be happening to you.
  • Increased risk of dental cavities- People that are suffering from sleep apnea are most likely to breathe through the mouth. Breathing through the mouth is a practice that could dry out the protective saliva, leading to an increased rate of tooth decay. Consequently, your dentist may notice more cavities and enamel erosion.

The good thing is that having your sleep apnea condition under control can eliminate or reduce these dental problems. Consult your sleep specialist or doctor to know the ideal treatment option for you. Also, speak with your dentist as well, concerning the different ways you can apply to treat any dental-related problems.

Treating Sleep Apnea

It’s possible to treat sleep apnea. We have different treatment options you can choose from with the help of your doctor. These include:

  • Adjusting your sleeping habits - Adjusting your sleep habits could mean merely not sleeping on the back.
  • Oral appliances - Specific oral devices are capable of shifting and supporting the jawbone, thereby preventing the collapse of the airway. Research indicates that oral devices can prevent sleep apnea successfully in certain mild and moderate cases.
  • Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) - CPAP refers to a device that enhances breathing when one is asleep. This equipment supplies air via the nasal passages. In the process, the air pressure manages to keep the airway wide open when sleeping.
  • Surgery - As per the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, an upper airway surgical procedure can be recommended where other options of treatment have proven to be unsuccessful in reducing or eliminating sleep apnea signs and symptoms. Based on the nature and location of the obstruction of the airway, the procedure might be more complex or minimally invasive. It could be mandatory to get rid of the tonsils or any other part of the throat or soft palate.

Should you have a reason to believe that you have developed sleep apnea, ensure you talk with your dentist or doctor for possible evaluation and further information.

Oral Appliances for Treating Sleep Apnea Condition

Before determining any options of treatment, sleep research has first to be done to determine how severe a patient’s symptoms are since these symptoms could directly influence the kind of therapy your doctor would recommend.

The most known kind of therapy treatment is CPAP devices. CPAP appliances blow constant pressurized air via a mask and into your respiratory system. In the case of patients suffering from moderate to severe condition of sleep apnea, most sleep experts will suggest CPAP therapy treatment as the first-line option of treatment. In the case of mild-moderate conditions, a dental appliance is usually the recommended treatment option. Your doctor may also recommend that you wear dental devices together with a CPAP appliance to help in lowering high pressure. 

How Dental Devices Work

We have two primary categories of oral devices; Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces and Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs).

The MADs that are used in treating sleep apnea closely resemble orthodontic retainers or mouthguards. For them to fit in your mouth, they are snapped over the lower and upper dental arches. MADs are made with metal hinges that join the two bits together, one fitting over your lower teeth while the other fitting over your upper teeth.

MADS function by pushing your tongue and lower jaw slightly forward. This helps in preventing the pharynx and throat muscles from falling back in the airways, permitting for your normal breathing while sleeping. Most of the MADS can be adjusted, which allows the dentists to adjust the jaw’s position for the highest effectiveness.

Before MADs are fitted in your mouth, your dentist will assess your mouth, temporomandibular, and teeth to find out whether you are the right candidate for these devices. If you are a good match, your dentist will make models of your teeth. Experts utilize these models to create oral devices that fit in the mouths of patients. A correct fit is critical since an improperly installed appliance can lead to jawbone damage. Patients put on their devices when they go to sleep to relieve their symptoms of sleep apnea.

On the other hand, tongue retaining mouthpieces resemble, in construction, the MADs. But, for them, they have a slight compartment which fits around your tongue by use of suction to ensure it remains held forward, stopping it from falling back in the airway. These appliances are commonly used in persons that can’t sufficiently have their jawbone repositioned forward.

Your dentist will work with you closely to ensure that your oral devices are working properly and alleviating your symptoms.  Whereas the appliances can be uncomfortable in the beginning, most users adjust within only a few days. Continued use and regular monitoring help oral device users achieve the best outcome.

Being Fitted with Oral Appliances

You will need to let your dentist create a custom-made dental device to fit your specific needs. Note that over-the-counter alternatives are also available, but they aren’t recommended. Dental devices that are obtained over the counter can be appealing due to their lowered prices. However, they can, in reality, complicate a sleep apnea condition. Most patients that order dental appliances without first consulting their dentists may achieve in eliminating their snoring signs. However, these patients will not know that the devices weren’t preventing apnea occurrences. This may lead to complications going forward since it’s only the symptoms of snoring that were stopped, but the condition itself wasn’t.

Pros of Oral Appliances

Dental devices have proven to be more beneficial compared to other options of sleep apnea treatment. The reasons why this form of treatment can be ranked above other methods include:

  • Most patients find them to be much tolerable and comfortable to wear compared to CPAP devices.
  • Patients undergoing CPAP therapy usually complain of itchy dry noses as a result of the air pressure drying up their sinuses. On the other hand, dental appliances don’t have this issue.
  • There’s less equipment involved; therefore, it is easier to move around with
  • There’s less equipment for you to be entangled with while sleeping, or for patients that are active movers in their sleep, knock off while sleeping.
  • They are relatively inexpensive. Even though adjustable models cost quite a lot, they are still more affordable compared to CPAP machines.
  • They don’t have many side effects. Since they are custom-made, they fit perfectly for different patients. A few patients struggle to adjust to them, but this isn’t much of an issue compared to CPAP devices.
  • Using dental devices does not come with the dangers of sleep apnea-related surgery.

Cons of Oral Devices

Despite their benefits, oral appliances, too, have their downsides. Their disadvantages include:

  • Sore teeth or gums, or both
  • Jaw pain, tension, or soreness
  • Excessive salivation/dry mouth
  • Dental restoration, for instance, bridges, crowns, etc., become loose.
  • Possible permanent change or damage to the jawbone position/bite

Who Can Qualify for Oral Appliances?

Not everyone qualifies to be fitted with dental devices. That is why before you resort to this form of treatment, you need to consult with your dentist first to find out if you are the right candidate.  The right persons to have dental appliances include:

  • Patients with major snoring problems without having sleep apnea
  • Patients whose sleep apnea condition is mild- Oral devices aren’t recommended for the patients that have moderate-severe conditions.
  • Patients that have attempted CPAP therapy but failed may also qualify.
  • Patients that refused or were unsuccessful with surgical procedures like a tonsillectomy, craniofacial operations, tracheostomy, or adenoidectomy.
  • Patients that are using CPAP devices may also qualify for dental appliances as they help to reduce the patient’s hypopnea/apnea index for a much bearable air pressure setting.

Find a Encino Dentist Near Me

If you think you are suffering from a sleep apnea disorder, you need to reach out to a sleep clinic and arrange for a consultation with a sleep expert or speak with your primary care doctor concerning your sleep problems. Ensure that you ask these professionals about what treatment options are available, including dental devices and CPAP, and inquire about which could be the ideal option for your condition. If you reside in Encino, CA, you can visit Encino Dentist dental clinic, where our skilled dentists will assess your situation to determine whether or not dental devices are the best treatment for your disorder. Alternatively, you can call us at 818-650-0429 if you have any concerns or questions about dental appliances as a treatment option for sleep apnea.