Obstructive sleep apnea is serious disorder that interrupts breathing during sleep and can lead to a number of physical and mental health problems. Here, our Surrey dentist explains a few of the symptoms of this common disorder.
At Elgin Corners Dental, we offer a variety of methods to help individuals suffering from sleep apnea.
There are two main types of sleep apnea:
- Central Sleep Apnea: which occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: which occurs when air cannot flow through the nose or mouth even though the body is still trying to breathe.
Obstructive sleep apnea is far more prevalent and easily treatable by the dentist.
Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea can include severe early morning headaches, sleepiness in the daytime, and insomnia.
Fortunately, the dentist is equipped with the necessary technology and expertise to treat sleep apnea in several different ways.
Reason for treating sleep apnea
It is very important to seek medical attention if sleep apnea is suspected.
The tongue then falls towards the back of the throat which tightens the blockage and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs.
The problem worsens when the chest region, diaphragm, and abdomen fight for air.
The efforts they make to obtain vital oxygen only cause a further tightening of the blockage.
Because sleep apnea causes carbon dioxide levels to skyrocket in the blood and oxygen levels to decrease, the heart has to pump harder and faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
What does sleep apnea treatment involve?
The dentist can offer many different treatment options which depend largely on the exact diagnosis and the health of the patient.
Dental devices that gently tease the lower jaw forward are very effective in preventing the tongue from blocking the main air passage. These dental devices are gentle, easy to wear, and often help patients avoid unwanted surgeries.
A more permanent solution is to have surgery that sections the lower jaw and helps pull the bone holding the tongue forward slightly. This surgery has an impressive success rate and is simple for the dentist or oral surgeon to perform.
Sleep Apnea Appliances
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
TAP® 3 (Thornton Adjustable Positioner)
The TAP® 3 is the smallest, most comfortable member of the TAP family. It is a two-part custom-created sleep apnea appliance that fits over the teeth in much the same way as a sports mouthguard. The TAP® 3 projects the jaw forward to prevent the tongue and soft tissues from impeding the airway. The lower jaw positioner is adjustable, which means that it can be altered to suit the comfort level of the wearer. The TAP® 3 appliance can accommodate the three main types of malocclusion, and allows the lips to fully close.
The OASYS appliance is designed to move the base of the tongue toward the front of the mouth by gently repositioning the jawbone (mandible). This shift opens the oropharynx and strengthens the upper airway. An extension of the upper shield projects toward the nose, creating a larger nasal opening and less resistance to normal airflow. This adjustable appliance is comfortable to wear and extremely patient friendly.
The KlearwayTM Appliance is generally used to alleviate obstructive sleep disorder and eliminate snoring. The patient or dentist can project the jaw forwards in increments of .25mm at a time. This ensures maximum comfort for the sleeper. The KlearwayTM appliance is made from VariflexTM heat softening acrylic, which makes it easier to insert. Running warm water over the appliance makes it pliable, but once placed in the desired position, the acrylic hardens again.
Herbst Telescopic Appliance
The Herbst appliance is held in the mouth by clasps and friction grips. It is made of acrylic, and contains adjustable metal wiring. The advantage of this appliance is that the wearer is able to move vertically and laterally without dislodging the appliance. The Herbst appliance is usually used in mild and moderate cases of sleep apnea, and can also alleviate loud snoring effectively.