Can Dentists Fix Sleep Apnea?

cosmetic dentistry in Riverhead New YorkStudies show that about a half a million adults suffer from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), making them two of the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders. In addition to preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, snoring and/or sleep apnea also increase your chances of serious health problems and have been associated with both cardiovascular and systemic disease.

The most commonly prescribed treatment for OSA is CPAP therapy, but Dr. John Caesar of Bella Smiles, a dental practice in Long Island, NY, offers an alternative treatment for snoring and OSA in the form of a custom fit snore guard to wear while you’re asleep.

Q: What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is most commonly diagnosed in those that are medically obese or carrying excess weight and is also more prevalent in smokers, those who frequently drink alcohol, those over 50 and in men in general.

Tissues in the back of the throat can block your airway as the muscles relax during sleep, restricting airflow to the rest of the body. The sleeper with OSA may wake up multiple times throughout the night, gasping for air. The result is that he or she wakes up feeling tired, may have difficulty staying awake 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, which uses a machine to pump air through a mask and down into the sleeper’s airway to prevent the collapse of the airway, is still the most commonly utilized sleep apnea treatment, Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) offers a similar result. Both methods prevent the airway from collapsing during sleep but the sleep appliance is considered to be more comfortable by most patients.

The oral appliance is custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth to be comfortable while keeping the airway open. The oral appliance repositions the bottom jaw forward, to prevent the soft tissue from collapsing over the airway. It’s even made strong enough to withstand bruxism, or teeth grinding, so even those with this issue can benefit from the therapeutic benefits of the appliance.

Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?

Dr. Caesar meets with patients for an individual consultation where he will examine the mouth to ensure a comfortable fit. The device does reposition the jaw, but it’s designed to be comfortable so as to disrupt sleep as little as possible. Most patients report snoring less, sleeping better and feeling better after consistently using the oral appliance.

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

What makes an oral device both effective and comfortable is how well it’s fitted to the individual patient’s mouth by your dentist. Dr. Caesar 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 the device is as comfortable for you as possible. He knows that the more comfortable the appliance, the more likely his patients are to wear them to bed every night.

If you are in the Long Island area and are seeking help with your snoring or any other dental issue, don’t hesitate to contact the Riverhead, Roslyn and Nesconset offices of Bella Smiles for a consultation today.