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How Your Dentist Treats Sleep Apnea

How Your Dentist Treats Sleep Apnea in charleston sc treatmentMany people — and their partners — suffer from the adverse effects of snoring. More than just a nuisance, snoring is often an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most common treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine, but Dr. James Dickert and Dr. Agatha Lynn of West Ashley Family Dentistry in Charleston SC can help with an alternative treatment in the form of an oral appliance to wear while you’re asleep.

Q: What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, most often stems from obesity or excess weight. Sleeping in certain positions can cause the airway to become obstructed as the muscles relax during sleep, restricting airflow to the rest of the body. The afflicted sleeper will awaken multiple times overnight gasping for air and will wake up feeling tired. This person may also find themselves falling asleep during the day, and have issues with memory and concentration.

Q: Isn’t the only option for sleep apnea CPAP therapy? How does the oral appliance work?

While CPAP therapy is certainly the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea, an oral appliance can provide a similar result. Both offer different ways of keeping the airway open during sleep, when the soft tissue in the mouth are more relaxed.

Instead of applying a constant airflow keeping the airway open during sleep, as CPAP therapy does, the oral appliance is custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth to keep the airway open. The device moves the bottom jaw, repositioning it to keep the soft tissue from collapsing over the airway. The appliance is even sturdy enough to withstand the effects of bruxism — teeth grinding — so even nighttime teeth-grinders can benefit from the device.

Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?

Dr. Dickert or Dr. Lynn meet with patients for an individual consultation where they will examine the mouth and make sure you’re fitted correctly and comfortably. Although the device repositions the jaw, it is designed to fit comfortably inside the mouth with as little disturbance to sleep as possible. Most patients report the oral appliance produced a reduction in snoring, leading to better sleep and happier mornings!

Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?

What makes an oral appliance comfortable and effective is how well it’s fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Dr. Dickert or Dr. Lynn will meet with you to discuss your needs, gather precise measurements and your mouth’s specific details, and will work with you to make sure the device is as comfortable as possible. The last thing we want is to help you stop snoring but make your jaw hurt instead!

Our caring staff at West Ashley Family Dentistry in Charleston SC wants to help you get better sleep. Call (843) 371-5480 or schedule an appointment online today.