Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition that occurs when the muscles in your upper airway relax during sleep, causing them to collapse and block the airway. This can cause you to stop breathing during the night, which can result in reduced oxygen levels and sleep disturbances. An oral appliance is a custom-fit device worn in the mouth while asleep. It keeps your airway open by supporting your jaw and keeping the upper airway from collapsing while asleep.
How are dentistry and sleep apnea related?
One of the first signs of sleep apnea in the mouth is often tooth grinding, or bruxism. A small jaw, tongue with scalloped edges, or throat redness can also be signs of OSA. A dentist trained in sleep medicine will be able to recognize these signs and discuss any symptoms you may be having.
How do I know if I have OSA?
Snoring, choking sounds while sleeping, excessive daytime sleepiness, poor memory, irritability and morning headaches are all red flags for OSA. A dentist trained in sleep medicine can help work in conjunction with your MD to determine if you have OSA and whether oral appliance therapy is right for you.
Are oral appliances comfortable to wear?
Many patients report oral appliances are more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Also, more than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance, so they are safe to wear.
Is treating OSA important?
Absolutely. If left untreated, chronic OSA can cause daytime fatigue and memory loss. In addition, the research has shown that untreated OSA can cause numerous health issues including hypertension, congestive heart failure, stroke and type 2 diabetes.