I suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, can my dentist help?

I suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, can my dentist help?

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea, caused when the throat muscles relax intermittently, blocking the airways when sleeping. Living with the condition can be difficult because it can cause loud snoring, abrupt awakenings, insomnia, sore throat, morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness and other symptoms that disrupt daily life. Luckily, your Fairfax sleep apnea dentist, Dr. Dan Kelliher, may be able to help reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea so you can rest soundly at night and feel better during the day.

Dental devices, also known as oral appliances, may be a good treatment option for people who cannot tolerate CPAP treatments and suffer from mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea.

Many devices are available, including:

Tongue retaining devices (TRDs): These appliances are splints that keep the airways open by holding the tongue in place.
Mandibular advancement devices (MADs): MADs are the most common dental solution for sleep apnea and look a bit like mouth guards worn by athletes. These devices keep the airways open by forcing the lower jaw slightly down and forward.

Patients who suffer from sleep apnea and have a narrow upper jaw may benefit from rapid maxillary expansion, an orthodontic treatment that uses a screw device on the upper teeth to improve breathing and reduce nasal pressure.

These devices offer many benefits, including improved sleep, high compliance rates, significant reductions in mild to moderate apneas and a reduction in the loudness and frequency of snoring in most patients. Both MADs and TRDs have shown better long-term results for controlling sleep apnea in comparison to the standard surgical treatment.

by Dr. Dan Kelliher

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