Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes affected individuals to stop breathing during sleep. While breathing disruptions can be relatively short, in some cases, breathing can stop for dangerously long periods of time, leading to prolonged oxygen deprivation. If you find yourself falling asleep during the day, are told that you snore while you sleep, or wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, these could be signs that indicate you suffer from sleep apnea. Fortunately, if you visit a dentist and undergo the appropriate tests, treatment is available.
Consult a Dentist
If you suffer from sleep apnea, the first thing you should do is consult a dentist as soon as possible. The American Academy of Sleep Sciences and the National Institutes of Health both recognize that dental appliance therapy is the first step in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea. During a consultation, a dentist will begin by evaluating your complete medical and dental history. The dentist will then perform a thorough intraoral exam and an evaluation of the head, neck, teeth, and other supporting structures.
At StoneRidge dental care, Dr. Levy will also recommend an overnight sleep study and employ the use of a pharyngometer to determine the optimum jaw position to ensure maximum airflow. The test carried out during a consultation is so precise that it can definitively determine whether you will benefit from an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea.
Wear an Oral Device
If a consultation reveals that you do in fact suffer from mild or moderate sleep apnea, the next step is to get an oral device to wear while you sleep. Oral devices for patients who suffer from sleep apnea are similar to bite guards. Their function is to ensure that your airway remains open throughout the night by moving the position of the jaw or holding the tongue. These devices are comfortable and easy to use.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, it is imperative to consult a dentist as soon as possible. Approximately 10% of all middle-aged men and women suffer from some form of sleep apnea. To learn more about what you should do if you suffer from sleep apnea, call StoneRidge Dental Care at (614) 476-6696.