Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition that can have dramatic consequences for your health and quality of life. However, like many patients, you may be completely unaware that you have the condition. If you suffer from chronic exhaustion, frequent headaches, mood swings, or related symptoms, you may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Jacksonville Dentist Dr. Lysandro Tapnio is committed to conservative treatments and your long-term health. He can often treat OSA with a custom-made oral appliance. This device will be quite comfortable and much easier to adjust to than other treatment methods. Protect your overall health and enjoy the full night’s sleep that you deserve! Contact our Jacksonville office today to schedule a consultation.

Causes and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When you sleep, your whole body should fall into a state of deep relaxation. However, certain muscles can relax too much. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, your tongue, soft palate, and/or throat will droop so far that they block the flow of air. Every time your breathing stops, you will wake up or move to a lighter cycle of sleep. This can occur hundreds of times every night, but you may be completely unaware of this pattern. Therefore, loud snoring may be the most noticeable indication of sleep apnea. Other signs of OSA include:

  • Chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability, mood swings, and short-term memory loss
  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Patients of all ages can suffer from sleep apnea. However, certain individuals are at a higher risk for OSA. You may be more likely to develop this condition if:

  • You are male
  • You are over age 60
  • You are overweight
  • You have enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Your neck is thicker than usual
  • You smoke
  • You have a family history of sleep apnea

Oral Appliances Are a Common, Non-Invasive Treatment

Whatever your age or the causes of your OSA, Dr. Tapnio can often treat the condition with an occlusal splint. There are several types of appliances available. With all types, Dr. Tapnio will take impressions of your teeth to ensure a comfortable fit. Your device will realign your jaw, typically pushing your lower jaw forward. This will tighten your soft tissues and prevent them from closing your airway.

In the past, continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, was the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Patients would wear a mask over their noses and throats. The CPAP machine would emit a steady stream of air to keep the airway open. However, many patients found it very difficult to adjust to this treatment. In fact, they often slept less soundly with the device than they did while suffering the effects of sleep apnea! In contrast, occlusal splints are comfortable and unobtrusive. Like most patients, you will typically adjust to the device within a few days.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Have Long-Term Benefits for Your Health

You may not realize the serious toll that OSA can take on your systemic health. OSA can increase your risk for several health issues, including:

  • Elevated blood pressure: The exact connection between OSA and blood pressure is unknown. However, some experts speculate that if you wake up frequently every night, your body will produce excess stress hormones. In turn, this will raise your blood pressure. Fortunately, treating sleep apnea will not only improve your health. It could also reduce your dependence on blood pressure medication.
  • Higher risk for heart attack and stroke: High blood pressure is one of the main causes of heart attack and stroke. The interrupted flow of oxygen may also raise your health risks.
  • Diabetes: Excess weight contributes to both diabetes and OSA. Therefore, not all experts believe that sleep apnea causes diabetes. However, many have noticed that OSA makes it more difficult to keep blood sugar under control.
  • Car accidents: If you suffer from chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness, you are far more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Improve Your Quality of Life

In addition to improving your long-term health, Dr. Tapnio’s sleep apnea treatment can enhance your emotional and mental wellbeing. Mood swings are a common consequence of OSA. Therefore, after you receive your mouth guard, you may feel happier and more stable. You may find that your relationships with others improve since you will no longer be prone to irritability. Our mouth guards can also lessen loud snoring, which may be very disruptive to your spouse. Finally, you may find that your work performance improves since you will be more alert, energetic, and ready to take on new challenges.

Enjoy a Better Night’s Sleep

Effective sleep apnea treatment can be truly life-changing. Contact us today to learn more about your treatment options.

For a textbook definition on sleep apnea, read this article.