You may not be aware that you have sleep apnea. Its symptoms are more difficult to notice than those of many other health conditions since they happen while you’re asleep. But if you’re aware that you snore loudly—perhaps a partner tells you or the snoring wakes you—and a full night’s sleep leaves you tired, these are signs you could have sleep apnea. A sleep study, whether at a sleep center or at home, is what can tell you for sure.
There are numerous treatments available for sleep apnea, but you may not like the thought of the top one, which involves wearing a breathing mask as you sleep. Did you know that a dental solution exists for sleep apnea? For patients in the Cincinnati, OH area, our Kemper Meadow Family Dentistry practice can take a look at your case to see if we can treat your sleep apnea from our office. Call us or reach out through our website to set up a consultation appointment.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep condition where airway constriction causes breathing cessation, which repeats several times through the night. Sleep apnea affects the quality of your sleep as well as your internal organs and daytime ability to function well.
There are three types of sleep apnea you could be diagnosed with. These include obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea syndrome. The difference between the three is the reason why the sleep apnea is happening. The first one, which involves the relaxed throat muscles, is the most common type. The second type involves a problem with brain signals, and the third type is a combination of the two.
Symptoms can overlap between the different sleep apnea types. The most common symptoms of both types are:
Stopping breathing for short periods of time during sleep
Gasping, choking or snorting while sleeping
Having trouble staying asleep
Feeling excessively sleepy during the day
Experiencing symptoms upon waking such as a dry mouth and headache
Having trouble paying attention during the day
Feeling irritable during the day
Some of the symptoms you would notice yourself, while others would need to be observed by another person or through a sleep study. Even if you notice symptoms, such as sleepiness, you may not connect them to sleep apnea unless you know about your breathing and snoring habits during sleep.
Talking to your doctor or a sleep specialist can help determine if sleep apnea is the cause of your sleep troubles. To give a proper diagnosis, an expert would probably perform a sleep test. They might have you visit a sleep center and then use nocturnal polysomnography, which involves being hooked up to a machine. It checks body functions like breathing, blood oxygen levels and body activity as you’re asleep. Another option is a home sleep test, which checks your breathing and airflow, blood oxygen level and heart rate as you sleep in your own bed at home. The results of your testing can inform a diagnosis. If you have sleep apnea, the test could help determine the type and severity of the case. It’s also possible that the doctor would recommend further testing depending on the situation.
It’s important to address sleep apnea, as it interferes with proper sleep and wakefulness. It can also contribute to various health problems such as heart problems, type 2 diabetes or surgical complications.
How Can a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea involves the airways and the breathing process during sleep, dentistry can help. At Kemper Meadow Family Dentistry in Cincinnati, OH, we offer patients the Silent Nite appliance as an alternative to other sleep apnea treatments, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, other airway pressure or airflow devices, or surgery.
The Silent Nite® appliance works by positioning the lower jaw in a way that you get the airflow you need by maintaining a clear airway to improve breathing, all night long. Snoring is usually eliminated or significantly reduced with this appliance, which is comfortable and adjustable by the patient while enabling your peace of mind.
An oral device like the Silent Nite appliance is most likely to help with a case of mild obstructive sleep apnea or snoring. One of our trained dentists can prescribe one of these devices if it would fit your situation. The device would be custom-made to fit your mouth perfectly. It’s made in a lab out of BPA-free materials that include a soft interior and hard exterior. Top and bottom pieces fit over your teeth like a mouth guard, and connectors go between the top and bottom parts. You can adjust the connectors to slightly move the lower jaw forward, creating a better airflow for sleep. This device is prescribed by dentists for both snoring and sleep apnea.
You might find it much more comfortable to wear a dental device like the Silent Nite appliance during sleep than an airway mask, although the best treatment will depend on the situation. After you receive your custom device and start wearing it, one of our dentists can follow up with you on whether it’s improving your symptoms and whether it continues to give you the right fit.
If you’re interested in a dental solution for sleep apnea, you would start by having a doctor or sleep specialist diagnose your sleep problem. Once you have a diagnosis of sleep apnea, you can consider the different treatment options available to you.
The Silent Nite appliance provides one dental treatment option for snoring and sleep apnea. The Silent Nite appliance won’t be right for every situation or may not be the first option to try, but we can assess you during a visit to our Cincinnati dental office to see if it’s right for you. It may be something you’d like to try to see if it benefits you, possibly as an alternative to more invasive options.
To have your custom appliance made, we would take impressions of your upper and lower teeth at our Kemper Meadow dental office. Then, we would send these impressions to a lab, where they would create your custom-fitted appliance and send it back to us. We would have you come back for a visit to ensure the device fits your mouth as intended, and we can show you how to adjust it for sleep. We would continue to follow up to ensure a continuous proper fit and to see if it’s helping.
The Silent Nite appliance can generally be used along with lifestyle changes that may help with sleep apnea. Various changes to habits can help with some of the factors that increase the risk of this problem. Top changes you can make to your lifestyle include:
Exercising regularly, ideally for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days
Losing weight if needed
Sleeping on your side or belly, and using a tennis ball on your back or a device to avoid sleeping on your back
Avoiding smoking, alcohol, tranquilizers and sleeping pills, if possible and applicable
You may also need to work with your doctor if a health condition is contributing to sleep apnea. Treating the health condition may in turn help with the sleep disorder.
Set Up Your Sleep Apnea Dental Visit in Cincinnati
We offer the Silent Nite appliance as part of our dental services at Kemper Meadow Family Dentistry in Cincinnati, OH. During a consultation visit, we can assess your situation and see if this device might help you sleep better. Contact us by phone at 513-648-9900 or through our website to set up your appointment.
1291 Kemper Meadow Dr. Cincinnati, Ohio 45240