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Sleep Apnea, How We Can Help

Sleep Apnea, How We Can Help

Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is essentially a condition whereby your airways are either partially or fully blocked while trying to breath while you are asleep. One of the most indicative signs that someone has sleep apnea is loud snoring.

There are a couple of different types of sleep apnea, but the most common type is called obstructive sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, your airway can partially collapse or become blocked during sleep. This will in turn cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses while you are trying to sleep.

The long term effects of sleep apnea can be quite numerous. For instance, due to the fact that you essentially have to wake yourself out of deep sleep in order for your body to continue taking in oxygen, your sleep cycle gets very disrupted. Because of this, a lot of individuals with sleep apnea end up feeling excessive daytime sleepiness. Struggling to breath also will cause high blood pressure, and after a long time with unchecked sleep apnea, you can develop more chronic and serious health problems than just high blood pressure.

It can occur that you may not even know that you have sleep apnea. In fact you, unless it’s so bad that you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, you wouldn’t really know unless you had a significant other. Let me give you a brief overview of the mechanism of “snoring“: while you are sleeping, muscles and other soft tissues in your throat and mouth relax, effectively reducing the space air can flow through. Because of this, the velocity of the air flow increases during breathing. The increase of the velocity of air flow causes soft tissues, like the palate and your uvula, to vibrate. These vibrations cause “noisy breathing”, more basically, snoring.

How can we help?

In dentistry we have the ability to craft special appliances for individuals with sleep apnea and snoring trouble. The appliance works by opening the jaw a certain way to allow airflow to pass along the airways of your mouth, nose, and throat, reducing velocity of air flow and soft tissue vibration. Bruxism (teeth grinding) is also curbed with use of this appliance, as it helps to hold the jaws apart.

The procedure you go through to receive the appliance is very painless and easy. At the first appointment we would do a consultation with you to see what you are running into. We’d examine your bite position and jaw position. Next we would take molds of both your top and bottom teeth. After that we simply send it to a dental lab to have the appliance made. We’ll give them the necessary measurements related to the dimensions of the jaw as well. Then we would just schedule you for a time when the appliance comes back from the lab (usually only about 2 weeks).

On your next appointment we would try the appliance’s fit on your teeth. If all is well, your appointment is done. If the appliance needs some slight adjustment, the doctor will do that for you at that appointment and you will be able to take the appliance home thereafter. In some very rare cases, another impression may need to be taken and the process started over, but as I said, this is very rare.

The appliance usually takes a small amount of time to get used to. Anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks. The appliance has from about 70%-100% success in opening up the air channels in your mouth, nose, and throat. Compare that to only about a 30%-40% success rate in surgeries having to do with sleep apnea and snoring.

So, if you or a loved one is a snorer, or suffers from sleep apnea, come on down to Minovi Dental near Dupont Circle, Washington, DC and get a consultation to see if this appliance is right for you.

Stay healthy my friends.

Sources: NIH Article, Laboratory Article

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