Are you one of the 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea?
It can affect anyone at any time in their life, but all sufferers have one thing in common. They’re looking for safe, effective treatments that will help them to get a good night’s sleep.
Dental sleep medicine is a field that is growing in importance year on year. It involves the use of dental appliances to help people with sleep apnea manage their symptoms.
How do these work? Could they be right for you? Let’s take a closer look at options available in Los Angeles.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing while you are sleeping. The brain then wakes you up to make you take a breath.
The result? It’s impossible to get a good night’s sleep. People with sleep apnea often struggle with low energy, morning headaches, and mood changes.
There are three types, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. The airways become blocked when the throat muscles relax during the night.
The most common causes are obesity and a wide neck circumference. However, having narrow airways, nasal congestion, and orthodontic issues can also contribute to it.
Sleep Apnea in Children
Sleep apnea exhibits itself a little differently in children. Pediatric sleep apnea can lead to nightmares, bed-wetting, and poor behavior, due to exhaustion.
Snoring is not always a symptom, so it can be harder to spot. Your child’s physician may recommend investigating whether there is an orthodontic issue at play.
Your orthodontist can examine your child to determine what might be causing these issues. They can recommend either an appropriate dental appliance or other orthodontic treatment.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
The gold standard of sleep apnea treatment is the CPAP machine.
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. You need to wear a mask or nosepiece that delivers a constant, steady stream of air. This helps you to keep breathing while you are asleep.
While this is a great treatment, it does present some challenges. For many people, it’s hard to get to sleep wearing a mask. The masks can also leak, and you can experience nasal congestion and a dry mouth.
That’s why many people are now turning to dental appliances to help them live with sleep apnea.
How Dental Appliances Treat Sleep Apnea
The goal of dental appliances (also called oral appliances) for sleep apnea is to keep the airway free of obstructions. The two most common types do this by holding the jaw or tongue in position during the night.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD)
To picture a mandibular advancement device, think of an athletic mouthguard.
They work by holding the top and bottom teeth in place through the night. By keeping the lower jaw extended forward slightly, and the tongue in place, they keep the airway open.
Unlike athletic mouthguards, they allow you to breathe easily through your mouth. Many sleep apnea patients find this much more comfortable than using a CPAP machine. This leads to higher levels of compliance, and greater benefits for patients.
Many patients find CPAP machines claustrophobic. Although there are ways to reduce this feeling, generally, an MAD is easier for patients to tolerate.
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD)
TRDs are another, less common oral appliance used to treat sleep apnea. A small, flexible bulb outside the mouth holds the tongue in place. This stops it from causing an obstruction during sleep.
This tends to cause dry mouth, which patients find unpleasant. However, others find it to be helpful.
How to Get a Dental Appliance
Schedule an appointment with your dentist in Brentwood, and he or she will discuss your issues. You can also ask your physician to refer you to an orthodontist who specializes in dental sleep medicine.
The dentist will talk to you about the benefits, side effects, and cost of each type of treatment. When you have agreed on a treatment plan, he or she will create digital impressions of your teeth.
The impressions will be used to create custom dental appliances. At your next visit, the dentist will check the fit of the appliance and make any needed adjustments. He or she will also train you in how to use the appliance and keep it clean.
An added bonus of both types of dental appliances? They can reduce snoring!
The Benefits of Dental Sleep Medicine
Studies have shown that MADs are effective in reducing snoring and sleep apnea in affected adults. Most people want to continue wearing them. They are particularly successful for:
- People who sleep on their side
- Young people
- People with mild to moderate sleep apnea
A 2018 study showed that dental appliances are the go-to treatment for people who cannot tolerate CPAP.
They are also more cost-effective than CPAP. They take up very little room, are easy to use when traveling, and produce tolerable side effects.
If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, it’s a good idea to check in with an orthodontist who specializes in dental sleep medicine. Technology is constantly advancing, and a small appliance like those mentioned here could make a huge difference to your quality of life!
Choose Brentwood Dental Spa for Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea can take a huge toll on daily life. But dental appliances can put a spring back in your step!
They are a simple way to keep your airways clear. Their custom moldings make them a perfect fit for your mouth. Use them wherever you are, and enjoy better sleep, every night.
At Brentwood Dental Spa, our team is ready to help you benefit from the latest in dental sleep medicine. Our experienced dentists will talk you through treatment options, and find a solution that is tailored to your needs.
Give us a call at 1 (310) 409-4444 or request an appointment using our online form.