You probably don’t think about your dentist when you have trouble sleeping. However, your dentist might be able to help if your problem involves sleep apnea. Here’s how your dentist can help with sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Before we talk about what your dentist can do to help, let’s discuss what sleep apnea is. Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing while sleeping. Your brain naturally doesn’t like that because your oxygen levels drop, prompting you to wake up. You might not even be aware that you woke up, but it affects the quality of your sleep and overall health.
According to the American Medical Association, some 30 million people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea, although only about six million have been diagnosed with it. Nevertheless, it’s essential to know if you have sleep apnea because it is linked to other serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
So what causes this strange condition?
What causes sleep breathing problems?
There are three types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea, and Complex Sleep Apnea. Let’s take a look at the causes of each type.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is the most common form of sleep apnea. With OSA, tissues in the back of your throat become too relaxed and either collapse to obstruct your airway or narrow it, restricting your breathing.
Central Sleep Apnea
This type of sleep apnea does not involve obstruction of the airway. Instead, the brain isn’t sending the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. As a result, it’s not as common as OSA, and it’s trickier to diagnose.
Complex Sleep Apnea
This is a combination of the other two sleep apnea forms. With this form, a patient’s sleep apnea may not be entirely resolved with the methods typically used to treat OSA.
How can a dentist help with sleep apnea?
So just how does your dentist help with sleep apnea? Dentists who specialize in dental sleep medicine are trained in the use of oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea. These include devices that reposition your jaw and hold your tongue in place to prevent those tissues from collapsing and blocking your airway.
If oral appliance therapy doesn’t work, your sleep medicine dental specialist might also be able to help with oral surgery to enlarge your airway or remove, reduce, or reposition tissues blocking your airway. They may even put in soft palate implants to reinforce the palate and prevent it from collapsing to block your airway.
Koehne Specializes in Sleep Medicine
Dr. Michael Koehne of the Wheaton Dental Sleep Center is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He has been treating sleep breathing disorders for over seven years and is ready to answer all your questions about sleep apnea. Call our office today to learn more about how a dentist can help with sleep apnea! We’ll help you get a better night’s sleep in no time!