Snoring is a common nuisance for people who sleep together, and can sometimes leave you feeling drained and tired the next day. However, the worse cousin of snoring that's often mistaken for snoring, sleep apnea, can be potentially life-threatening. Here's how your dentist of all people can help to protect your life and well-being from this dangerous condition.
How Sleep Apnea Threatens You
Sleep apnea, at its worst, is a life-threatening condition. This is because it can cause the airway to close while you're asleep. When you're awake, the muscles in your throat remain tensed, keeping the airway open and allowing oxygen to flow through easily. However, when you go to sleep, the muscles in your neck and throat relax, much like the rest of the body. When this happens, your airway can collapse and make it very hard to get oxygen or even impossible. This can actually lead to heart problems and brain damage if it becomes severe enough.
How a Dental Appliance Helps
While the idea of sleep apnea might make you think that you need to run to a specialist, it's often dentists that are equipped to help in the least obtrusive way possible. Standard treatment for sleep apnea typically relies upon breathing machines that forcibly open the airway while you're asleep. These are understandably noisy and require the use of electricity, creating a problem if you want to go anywhere without access to power. Thankfully, the dental version has neither of these problems.
Dentists are able to make sleep apnea better by creating a dental appliance for you. This simple appliance, which looks like a retainer, holds open your jaw in a very specific way. The lower jaw is pulled forward slightly, which puts tension on the airway, keeping it open while you're asleep. Voila, you can breathe easily at night again without any additional sound or electricity required.
What to Expect
If you're eligible to receive a sleep apnea appliance, the process of getting one is quite simple.
Your dentist will examine your mouth, throat, and any medical records that they have available to them from your general physician regarding your condition. From there, they'll take a mold of your mouth so that they can make a custom-fit dental appliance that will be comfortable to sleep in. This will also prevent it from popping out in the middle of the night. Your dental appliance will be manufactured and mailed out to your dentist's office. After a quick examination to make sure that it's right, you'll be fitted with it, your airway will be checked, and if all is as it should be, you'll be free to go. Simply wear the appliance at night and reap the benefits.
Contact a family dental services professional for more information.