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Sleep Apnea Treatments

Woman covering her ears next to snoring manSleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, but it is also one of the most frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed health conditions. If you think you’re at risk for sleep apnea, please talk to a physician or let the Washington Dental Associates or Smile More Dentistry team know. You many not immediately consider visiting a dentist for sleep apnea, but we actually provide diagnosis and treatment planning services for many sleep apnea sufferers. If you want to learn more, call to schedule a sleep apnea consultation with us in Bergenfield or Tappan. We look forward to partnering with you to achieve and maintain deep, restful sleep.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Dentist placing a sleep apnea applianceSleep apnea is a disorder that causes patients to stop breathing for ten or more seconds at a time during sleep. These incidents can happen 100s or even 1000s of times each night. Every time the patient ceases breathing, the body triggers a panic response to awaken the sleeper and restart breathing. Unfortunately, this repeated wakening leads to elevated blood pressure and diminished quantity and quality of sleep (even if you don’t remember waking). There are two main types of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is the rarer form of the disorder that occurs when patients’ brains fail to signal bodies to breathe in and out. This form of sleep apnea can be extremely dangerous, so you should receive treatment for this disorder as soon as possible from an experienced sleep doctor and/or surgeon. We provide treatments for the more common form, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients with OSA experience interruptions in their breathing during sleep caused by physical obstructions in the throat.

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Woman sleeping next to man with CPAPThe only way to know for sure you’re suffering from sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep study. However, it’s important that you let a trusted sleep apnea professional know right away if you experience any of the following warning signs of sleep apnea:

  • Snoring
  • Waking gasping or wheezing
  • Waking with headache
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetting details
  • Changes in mood or behavior

Why Should I Visit a Dentist for Sleep Apnea Treatment?

Man sleeping soundly in bedDentists all complete advanced training to understand how oral and facial structures work together. This interaction includes the proper function of the airway, making dentists the ideal practitioners to provide treatment for patients who experience airway obstruction. Our skilled dentists have completed additional training in order to provide custom sleep apnea appliances and combined CPAP and oral appliance therapies.

How Does Oral Appliance Therapy work?

Oral appliances are crafted to shift the jaw forward, placing pressure on the throat muscles to clear the airway. If you’ve ever taken a CPR course, you’re likely familiar with this concept. To clear the airway before beginning mouth to mouth, you’ll be instructed to tilt the head back and jaw forward. This creates the same pressure on the throat that makes oral appliances effective in clearing the airway. In addition to keeping the airway open on their own, oral appliances can be used in combination with CPAP therapy for patients who have difficulty adjusting to the sounds and sensations of CPAP. With the clear airway, patients are able to use just a nasal mask with the CPAP system, and in many cases, they can use CPAP on lower settings that are easier for patients to adjust to.