In adults aged 40 and older, snoring is common. Aside from being an annoyance to those around you, it is usually harmless. For those with more severe snoring issues, it is possible that they may suffer from a condition known as sleep apnea. Chestnut Family Dentistry run by Dr. Wendy Willoughby, DDS in Asheville NC, uses a non-surgical solution to combat this issue. If you are a heavy snorer, it is best to schedule an appointment with us. Here is a link to a personal test to see where you score and if you may suffer from sleep apnea: Sleep Apnea Test
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which a person stops breathing for short periods of time while asleep. When this happens, you don’t intake enough oxygen which causes you to gasp and wake up in some cases. Many don’t know they have it because it sounds similar to snoring; they are also unaware that they have stopped breathing.
There are three main types of this condition:
Obstructive occurs when the throat muscles relax. Central occurs when the brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Complex is a treatment-emergent form of central that is a result of when both obstructive and central sleep apnea occur.
How Do You Fix Sleep Apnea?
Luckily, there are many solutions to solve this sleeping disorder. It varies heavily on the severity of your condition to determine what solution may be best for you. First, we will go over the different treatment options.
Sleeping disorders are more common in older people, heavier people, those who smoke, those who drink heavily or regularly, and those who don’t exercise. Underlying upper respiratory conditions and illnesses such as diabetes can also contribute to sleeping conditions.
Weight loss is a common recommendation for those suffering from sleeping disorders. Regular exercise such as yoga or a cardio workout is also recommended. Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol also lowers your chance of developing a condition and may ease an existing condition.
Some other lifestyle changes you can take if you already suffer from a sleeping disorder are using humidifiers in the bedroom and sleeping on your side, as opposed to your back. By adding either lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oils to your humidifier, you may see better results. These essential oils have anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you have tried other treatments and they have not worked, surgery my suggested as a last resort. Surgeries can include nerve stimulation, implants, jaw repositioning, tissue removal, or a tracheostomy (only in extreme, life-threatening cases).
Surgery is usually effective in treating snoring, but less effective in treating actual sleep apnea, especially the obstructive conditions.
Medical and Dental Devices
Certain airway pressure devices such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device are also common and yield good results. A CPAP machine sends air pressure through a mask that you wear while asleep. Although effective, many find the mask uncomfortable and it ruins the quality of sleep.
Oral appliances are a solution easier to use than CPAP machines. They work by putting a dental device in your mouth, which effectively keeps the throat open. Oral appliance therapy continues to increase as more people find out it is an effective first line of treatment and works as a safe alternative to other treatment options.
How Does Oral Appliance Therapy Work?
At Chestnut Family Dentistry, we offer oral appliance therapy to our patients suffering from sleeping disorders. The device itself fits in your mouth in the same way an orthodontic retainer would. Once inserted, it puts the jaw in a forward position which opens up the airways. This will not only improve your quality of sleep but also improve your quality of life.
The first step is to schedule a consultation with us. If we decide that an oral appliance would be best for you, a prescription will be written for an oral appliance that is model to best fit you. We do this by creating an appliance unique to the mold of your teeth. The appliance is also adjustable to maximize its effect and comfort. The best part is the device only needs to be worn at night while you sleep.
Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy
Using oral appliances as opposed to surgery or other devices is beneficial because it is non-invasive and can be easily set to fit your lifestyle. They are more comfortable to wear at night than CPAP machines and they are quiet and easily transportable, unlike some other treatment options.
The benefits of oral appliance therapy are many when coupled with some of the lifestyle changes listed above. Even with oral appliance therapy, you must try to continue living a healthy lifestyle and cut out potential risk factors.
After receiving your oral appliance, it is important to follow up with us regularly during your first year of using the treatment. After your first year, it is still a good idea to check back with us so we can ensure you are getting the most out of your oral appliance and we can reassess any signs and symptoms.
The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine supports oral appliance therapy as an effective treatment for sleep apnea. If a sleeping disorder is affecting you, schedule a consultation with Chestnut Family Dentistry in Asheville, North Carolina today, and let our team of dental experts assist in improving your quality of life.