Obstructive Sleep Apnea and the Dental Appliances Used to Treat It

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing for 10 or more seconds at a time while sleeping. These pauses can last from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes and may occur thirty times or more during an hour. Normal breathing starts again with a loud snort or choking sound. Obstructive sleep apnea disrupts sleep and is the number one cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. This is because whenever you stop breathing, you go from deep sleep to light sleep and we need deep sleep to feel rested.

 

Adult’s Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

 

You may have obstructive sleep apnea if you experience the following symptoms:

●     Clenching or grinding teeth

●     Sensitive teeth

●     Snoring

●     Morning Headaches

●     Excessive daytime sleepiness

●     Irritability or impaired mental or emotional functioning

●     Excessive snoring, choking, or gasping during sleep

●     Insomnia

●     dry or sore throat when you wake up

●     Hypertension

●     GERD

 

 

 

Children’s Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

 

Your child or toddler may have obstructive sleep apnea if they experience the following symptoms:

●     snoring

●     clenching or grinding teeth

●     mouth breathing

●     frequent ear infections

●     enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils

●     bedwetting

●     sleep talking

●     sleep walking

●     night terrors

●     hyperactivity / ADHD

●     thrashing in bed or moving around in bed

 

 

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the airway is restricted or completely blocked. This occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, the sides of the throat and tongue. This is what blocks the airway and breathing.

Listed are causes of obstructive sleep apnea:

  • ● small upper and lower jaw
  • ● excessive weight
  • ● neck circumference
  • ● age (older individuals are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea)
  • ● use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers
  • ● smoking
  • ● nasal congestion
  • ● genetic factors

causes of obstructive sleep apnea

Dental Appliances Used to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The mandibular repositioning device (MRD) (aka. Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance) is the most common dental appliances used for treating mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The device snaps over the upper and lower dental arches and slightly pulls the lower jaw forward.

Dental Appliances Used to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Another dental device that can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea is a tongue retaining device. This is a splint that holds the tongue in place and out of the airway.

 

These devices must be fit by a dentist who is trained in dental sleep apnea treatment.

 

Other Methods of Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine is also another way to treat sleep apnea. A CPAP machine opens the airway by blowing air down your throat at night to keep the airways open. A CPAP machine consists of a mask that fits over your nose or your nose and mouth, a motor to move air and a long tube to transfer the air from the motor to the mask. The mask is held in place with straps. Although CPAP is very effective, people are more likely to use a dental appliance for consistently. A dental appliance is easier to put on, travel with and it feels less claustrophobic.

 

Please contact us if you desire more information about Obstructive Sleep Apnea or dental appliances to treat it.

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