Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or abnormally shallow breathing during sleep. These breathing pauses or “apneas” typically last from 10 to 30 seconds and can occur several times throughout the night. Sleep apnea disorders are often chronic conditions that can be highly disruptive to sleep patterns.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the condition, which occurs when the airway collapses or becomes physically blocked during sleep. This often leads to snoring, shallow breathing or breathing pauses. While sleep apnea often goes undetected by many patients, sufferers may notice daytime sleepiness, impaired alertness and snoring. Diagnosis of sleep apnea is made through the combination of evaluating clinical symptoms, such as daytime fatigue and snoring, and formal sleep studies.
Dentists specializing in sleep disorders treat sleep apnea through a variety of dental procedures, including oral surgery. Depending on the patient and severity of the sleep apnea, custom mouthpieces that open up the airway by shifting the lower jaw forward may be effective and reducing or eliminating sleep apnea.
Scheduling an appointment with a dentist can help you find an effective dental treatment for sleep apnea. Even patients who have been unsuccessful using other methods or surgery may find a dental appliance is easy to wear and effectively eliminates their sleep apnea symptoms. With a range of procedures, including oral surgery, there are a variety of effective treatment options available.