FAQ: Can Your Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

sleep apnea plano tx dentistMany people — and their partners — must cope with the effects of chronic snoring. This is more than just an annoyance, however, it’s often a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most common treatment for OSA is nightly use of a CPAP machine, but Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles, a dental practice in Plano, TX, can help with alternative treatments in the form of oral appliances to prevent snoring and OSA.

Q: What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is most commonly associated with obesity or excess weight.  It is also observed more frequently among men than women. Certain sleep positions can obstruct the airway as the muscles relax during sleep, allowing tissue to collapse over the airway, restricting airflow to the rest of the body. The sleeper often awakes multiple times overnight gasping for air, wakes up feeling tired, falls asleep during the day, and may have issues with memory and concentration.

Q: I thought the only option for sleep apnea was CPAP therapy. How does the oral appliance work?

While CPAP therapy is the most common sleep apnea treatment prescribed to treat the issue, an oral appliance offers a similar result. Both are different ways of keeping the airway open during sleep, when the soft tissues in the throat are more relaxed.

Instead of a constant airflow from a machine through a mask keeping the airway open during sleep, as is the case with CPAP therapy, oral appliances are custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth structure to keep the airway open. These devices reposition the bottom jaw, gently moving it forward to keep the soft tissue from collapsing over the airway. They are durable enough to withstand bruxism, or teeth grinding, so even nighttime teeth-grinders can benefit from them.

Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?

Dr. Sowell meets with patients for an individual consultation where they will examine the mouth and make sure you’re fitted correctly and comfortably with one of our sleep appliances that best meets your needs and budget.. These devices do usually reposition the jaw, but they’re designed to fit comfortably inside the mouth with as little disruption to sleep as possible. Most patients report a reduction in snoring while using an oral appliance, leading to better sleep and happier mornings!

Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?

What makes an oral device comfortable and effective is how well it’s fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Dr. Sowell will meet with you to discuss your needs, gather precise measurements and your mouth’s specific details, and will work with you to make sure your device is as comfortable as possible. The last thing we want is for you to stop snoring but wake up with a sore jaw!

Q: What types of oral appliances does Dr. Sowell offer to treat sleep apnea?

The type of sleep apnea appliances we use include:

  • Mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is the most popular dental device for sleep apnea. It brings the lower jaw forward and down, which helps prevent the throat from collapsing.
  • Snoring appliance
  • Stop-snoring mouthpiece

Those who are fitted with one of these sleep apnea appliances will need to have it checked shortly afterward to make certain that it is working. Adjustments or periodic replacements may sometimes be necessary.

Our caring staff at Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX wants to help you get better sleep. Call (972) 382-6855 or schedule a complimentary consultation online.