| 05/11/16

sleeping betterDoes your partner ever complain about your snoring? Do you wake up frequently in the middle of the night feeling short of breath? If so, you may have sleep apnea. Read on to learn what this condition is, how it’s diagnosed, and why a dentist can help.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleeping disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start throughout the night. While there are several different types of sleep apnea, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, a person’s throat muscles relax intermittently, causing the airway to be blocked during sleep.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

If you think you might have sleep apnea, we recommend you make an appointment with your primary care physician. After examining you and reviewing your medical history, your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist.

A sleep specialist may suggest you either spend the night in a sleep lab hooked up to a polysomnogram (PSG) or that you use a home-based portable sleep monitor. These monitors analyze the amount of oxygen in your blood, air movement through your nose, heart rate, and chest movements. A specialist will then be able to make a diagnosis based on the results.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Sleep apnea is typically treated with either a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) or a mouthguard. A CPAP is a mask that fits over your nose and mouth, gently blowing air into your airway so it remains open. A mouthguard, on the other hand, repositions the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.

What Are the Pros and Cons of These Treatments?

While a CPAP can be effective, it will only work if the patient uses it. Many patients quit using their CPAP because they find it cumbersome, difficult to travel with, and noisy. People also report that it can be hard to get used to sleeping with the mask on.

Mouthguards offer an effective treatment for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, or those with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP. Not only are mouthguards quiet and portable, their convenience makes it easier for patients to use them consistently.

At Herrick Dental, we can create a custom mouthguard that will improve the quality of your sleep. While there are several over-the-counter mouthguards available, we caution you from using these. Most of them are ineffective for treating sleep apnea, and they could actually make your sleeping problems even worse! The high-quality custom mouthguard we create for you will offer a perfect fit, allowing you to treat your sleep apnea in a comfortable and convenient way.

If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea you can schedule your sleep apnea mouth guard appointment with us. Click here to fill out our online appointment request form or call us at 614.891.0440. We’re pleased to offer evening appointments for your convenience.

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