Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an issue that causes pauses in breathing throughout the night. At first, it might seem like a purely medical problem — one that should be addressed by a general physician. However, your dentist might actually be the best person to help you find relief. Why is that the case? How exactly can dentists treat sleep apnea? This comprehensive guide provides an explanation.
Why Are Dentists Qualified to Treat Sleep Apnea?
OSA occurs when tissues in the throat block the free flow of air during sleep. Dentists are intimately familiar with the anatomy of the mouth and throat, and many of them devote extra time to studying exactly how the upper airway works. In fact, there are probably dentists in your area who have earned certification from the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine or other prestigious organizations.
How Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea
The most common form of sleep apnea therapy provided by dentists is oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is small device that resembles a mouthguard. Its purpose is to gently move the lower jaw forward. This slight repositioning opens up the airway to allow for easier airflow. Therefore, pauses in breathing are greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.
Of course, there are other possible ways in which a dentist might be able to help you find relief from OSA. For example, they could:
- Refer you for orthodontic treatment. Misaligned teeth or a bad bite can contribute to airway problems.
- Give you lifestyle tips to reduce your symptoms. Quitting smoking, losing weight, or changing your sleeping position could help to manage OSA.
- Work with other local experts. In some cases, dentists coordinate with other medical professionals to help patients enjoy optimum results from their OSA treatment.
How to Get Started with Treatment
Most dentists cannot provide an official diagnosis of OSA, so if you suspect that you have this condition, you should undergo a sleep test. After your results have been analyzed, you can get started with treatment.
Your primary care practitioner might recommend that you use a CPAP machine, which uses pressurized air to prevent pauses in breathing. However, many patients find their CPAP to be uncomfortable. You have every right to explore alternative options, including oral appliance therapy from a dentist.
Not all dentists offer OSA therapy, so be sure to do a bit of research so you can find one who is qualified to serve you. Hopefully, you will soon be breathing easy every night!
Meet the Practice
Dr. Kenneth Mogell is double-board certified in dental sleep medicine. For over a decade, he has been using oral appliance therapy to help patients find relief from the exhaustion and other symptoms associated with OSA. To find out how he and our team may be able to serve you, contact any of our locations or call our Boca Raton office at 561-353-5252.