Sleep Dentistry is a category within the general field of Dentistry that is used to describe the diagnosis and treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in conjunction with our medical counterparts. The awareness amongst the general public of the dangers of sleep apnea has greatly increased in the recent years, and we at Cody Dental have had success in helping our patients become more aware of the treatment options that exist for them. The use of oral appliances to treat upper airway obstruction has been documented since the early 1900’s and continues on today.
Snoring is a condition caused by abnormal change in airflow, leading to vibration and the resultant sounds that are all too familiar to many. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea, defined as cessation of airflow for more than ten seconds in each repeated apnea event. The number of apnea events in a normal hour of sleep is what constitutes the diagnosis of mild, moderate, or severe apnea, and can only effectively be diagnosed by a sleep study prescribed by a physician, such as an ENT or Sleep Medicine expert.
Once a sleep study has been completed, the physician should review the data to determine how serious the apnea condition is and recommend a variety of treatment options.
For severe conditions, surgical alteration or a device called a CPAP may be recommended, which is a mask that forces oxygen into the airway at a constant rate and pressure, still considered the standard to which all other methods are compared. Consistency with wearing of the mask and external air compressor can be a negative to the success of this treatment.
For less severe conditions, the use of CPAP or oral appliances may be recommended. Most oral appliances work by holding the lower jaw in a protruded position, thus opening the constricted airway. This treatment includes a comprehensive exam and sleep history to determine if an oral appliance may be right for you.
Other common sense approaches to obstructive sleep apnea include losing the extra weight that many snorers carry, sleeping on one’s side, and avoidance of alcohol or other central nervous system depressants before bedtime.
Consult your Cody Dentist to see how we can help you determine what treatment may be the ticket to a restful night of sleep.
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