How Oral Appliances Help People Who Have Sleep Apnea

The next time you visit the dentist, you should not be surprised if he or she asks you questions about your sleep habits, snoring, and health. Many dentists are now treating sleep apnea in their patients, and that is the reason they ask questions about these things. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition when ignored, yet it can be easily treated with an oral appliance.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea falls into the category of sleep disorders, yet it is very different from other types of sleep disorders. With sleep apnea, a person will stop breathing while asleep, due to muscles in the throat relaxing too much. As this happens, it creates a plethora of different health risks to the person, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. People with sleep apnea tend to snore a lot, too, which causes them to wake up with dry mouths, and it also prevents a person from getting a good night's sleep. This often leaves a person feeling tired all the time, and likely so, because the person is not fully sleeping through the night.

What Types of Oral Appliances Are Available?

Before you can get treated for sleep apnea, you must be diagnosed, and this usually requires going through a sleep study. Once diagnosed, there are a variety of treatment options you could choose from, but many people prefer oral appliances. There are two main types of oral appliances, which are mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue retaining pieces. A MAD is like a sports retainer that you wear while sleeping. A tongue retainer is similar, but it is designed in a way to hold the tongue down to allow easier breathing.

What Are the Effects of Using an Oral Appliance?

Wearing either type of oral appliance can greatly reduce the health risks of sleep apnea, and they work by keeping the breathing passage open while a person sleeps. The appliances are designed to stop the muscles from closing the airway passage when they relax, and they do this by keeping a small space between the muscles. Even if the muscles relax while you sleep, you will not stop breathing, and this will greatly reduce the adverse health effects sleep apnea causes.

If you think you might have sleep apnea, you should talk to a dentist, like those at Jerry C Hu DDS Family Dentistry LLC, about it. Your dentist can help you learn the steps required to be diagnosed with this condition, and he or she can also help you determine what type of treatment option would be best for you.