How Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea

Woman sleeping

You probably know that a good night’s sleep is an important part of keeping healthy, but did you know your dentist can help make sure you’re sleeping well? If you have sleep apnea, you may be missing out on quality sleep, & your dentist can help!

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects your ability to breath while you’re asleep. People with sleep apnea experience pauses in their breathing when their tongue slides back & blocks their airway. Thinking they’re choking, their brain reacts by waking them up, which restores the airway enough for them to return to sleep. 

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, because people usually don’t wake up fully enough to realize anything is happening. This can cause tiredness even after seemingly sleeping all night, & it’s often loved ones who notice the symptoms—snoring or even that you seem to stop breathing sometimes while sleeping. If you have noticed these symptoms & think you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to your doctor to discuss treatment. 

Treatment

There are several treatments for sleep apnea, but it is commonly treated using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP. The CPAP machine pushes air past your tongue & into your airway, creating pressure that prevents the airway from collapsing or being blocked while you’re sleeping. 

Dentists & Sleep Apnea

Because sleep apnea is directly related to the positioning of your tongue & jaw, dentists can help with treatment using a mouthpiece that holds your jaw & tongue in the correct position, ensuring your airway stays open.  

While CPAP machines are effective, treatment using a mouthpiece from a dentist can provide greater freedom for patients. If you sleep on your side or stomach, you might prefer an oral appliance that allows you to move around over a CPAP, which generally requires you to sleep on your back & is much less mobile. 

If you want more information about how your dentist can help treat sleep apnea, please ask! Your dentist is dedicated to making sure you’re as healthy & comfortable as possible, so they will answer any questions you have & work to find the best solution for you.