Sleep Apnea Appliances
Sleep apnea is a harmful condition that blocks the airway and reduces the airflow of oxygen to the brain. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a number of debilitating medical issues, including chronic headaches, fatigue, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
At Gooch Family Dental, our dentists can fabricate appliances that help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. Here, our Birmingham, AL, team discusses the signs and symptoms of this disorder and explains how sleep apnea appliances can improve your quality of life.
Sleep Apnea Signs and Symptoms
Many individuals are not aware that they have sleep apnea because they are asleep when the most obvious symptoms occur, such as snoring or gasping for air. However, there are some warning signs that could indicate there is an issue:
- Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat
- Difficulty concentrating throughout the day
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Waking up abruptly throughout the night
- Headaches in the morning
- Decreased sex drive
Exploring Risk Factors
The direct cause of sleep apnea is restricted airflow to the brain. This can be due to several different issues, including:
- Chronic nasal congestion
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- A naturally narrow airway
In some cases, treating the issue directly may alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. For example, if you are overweight, losing extra pounds can help. If you suffer from chronic asthma or other respiratory conditions, treating those illnesses can reduce the risk of sleep disorders.
How Sleep Apnea Appliances Can Help
Oral appliance therapy is the first line of defense against obstructive sleep apnea. By placing the lower jaw in a more forward position, the airway is opened and oxygen levels increase. This type of therapy works well for many patients. It can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with CPAP.
To create a custom sleep apnea appliance, your Birmingham dentist takes impressions of your teeth. These are sent to a certified lab where a technician will craft your device according to your dentition and oral anatomy. Once the appliance is made, we will try it in to ensure that it fits and works properly.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Sometimes the signs of sleep apnea are obvious. But to obtain a proper diagnosis, your dentist may refer you to a sleep specialist. This doctor will perform a comprehensive examination and may potentially recommend a sleep study. During this process, your breathing and vital functions are monitored while you sleep.
Caring for Your Sleep Apnea Appliance
To keep your custom appliance in good condition, it is important to clean it regularly. Here are a few tips and recommendations from our team:
Be sure to brush and floss thoroughly before placing the appliance in your mouth. Food and bacteria can become trapped and increase the risk for decay and gum disease.
- Brush your appliance daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny bit of clear antibacterial soap.
- Store your appliance in a protective case when you are not wearing it.
- Never leave your appliance in the heat or direct sunlight, as it can become warped.
Learn More about Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you suffer from sleep apnea, it is important to have the issue addressed as soon as possible. When you treat this condition, you are also reducing the risk of several life-threatening conditions. To learn more, contact us online or call our Birmingham office at (205) 545-8001.