Dentists Treat Sleep Problems

Dental Interventions, Effective Treatment

3 Effective Ways on How Dentists Treat Sleep Disorders

Sleep impacts not only your health but also the overall quality of your daily life. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you look, feel, and perform at your best. According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder.

Having sleep disorders can be harmful to your well-being. Managing your sleep problems with the help of a medical professional, like a dentist, is important. Dentists are now recognizing and treating sleep disorders.

What are the treatments options that dentists can do? Let’s cite how they can provide treatments for sleep disorders.

Taking the Indirect Approach

This method refers to the recognition of what is the suspected sleep disorder that affects the patient’s sleep status. The dentist can recognize sleep disorders like insomnia, jet lag, narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and restless limb syndrome.

The dentist advises the patient of the potential sleep disorder and educating the patient about it. The dentist, who is a sleep specialist, can also provide you with a complete sleep evaluation that may involve an overnight sleep study in a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test. The data from the sleep study can be interpreted and discussed by the dentist and refer the patient for further evaluation and care if needed.

The dentist does the indirect approach first to diagnose the sleep disorder, refer the patient to undergo a sleep study, and provide the diagnosis for the patient.

Administering Oral Appliances

Dentists have an important role in treating obstructive sleep apnea and snoring by administering oral appliances. Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can improve the quality of your sleep, can restore your alertness and revitalizes your health and overall well-being.

The study Oral Appliance Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An Update showed that oral appliances are an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea not only to improve the apnea-hypopnea index but also for different physiological and behavioral results. Oral appliances are worn only during sleep. There are two major categories of oral appliances: the mandibular advancement devices (MADs); and the tongue retaining mouthpieces.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

The mandibular advancement devices fit like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. These devices push the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward to prevent the throat muscles from collapsing back into the airway and allow normal breathing as you sleep. They help support the jaw in a forward position to maintain an open upper airway. Most MADs are adjustable and dentists can fine-tune the jaw’s position to allow maximum effectiveness.

Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces

Meanwhile, tongue retaining mouthpieces are similar to MADs in construction but they have a small compartment that can fit around your tongue to keep it held forward. This compartment in a form of a suction prevents the tongue from collapsing back into the airway. These devices are recommended by dentists to patients who cannot have their jaws repositioned forward.

Mouth Guard

Dentists may also recommend mouth guards to cure bruxism. If you are often waking up with a headache or sore jaw, you may be clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth while you sleep, you have a problem called bruxism.

Wearing a night mouth guard can prevent you from grinding your teeth. Your dentist will fit you with a device to prevent your jaw from clenching. This mouth guard for grinding teeth acts as a protective barrier between your upper and lower teeth. It also aids to raise your bite and reposition the jaw in a position that helps relieve you from any symptoms and discomforts.

Before recommending the best oral appliance for you, your dentist conducts a complete clinical evaluation first that includes examining your teeth, jaw, tongues, and airway. Oral appliances are customized for you by the dentist.

Dentists administer oral appliances. They also recommend the most suitable oral appliance for you to treat your snoring, obstructive sleep apnea or bruxism to improve your sleep.

Putting Traditional or Modern Braces

Dentists also put different types of braces like the traditional braces or the modern Invisalign not only to create a beautiful smile but also to treat sleep apnea. When you suffer from sleep apnea, your breathing is restricted by the shape of your tongue, mouth, and throat, common signs that you need braces. This restriction in breathing is dangerous as it lowers blood oxygen levels.

Traditional or modern braces can increase the room inside your mouth. This can improve airflow and reduce the causes of sleep apnea. The misaligned and overcrowded teeth that may indicate a small jaw and reduced airspace can be corrected by braces.

Orthodontic braces can also correct the alignment of your jaw. When your lower jaw is not properly aligned, it can obstruct the airway. Some of your muscles can relax as you sleep, and that can narrow the airway opening. As a result, entry of air into your lungs is restricted and you may experience pauses in breathing.

When your bite problem is corrected, your airway will be open, and it will be easier for you to breathe, making you feel more well rested in the morning.

Dentists Play a Big Role

Dentists play an important role in treating patients’ sleep disorders. These treatments can involve the indirect approach as well as the use of oral appliances and orthodontic braces. If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders, see a dentist specializing in sleep disorders to prevent further impact on your health.

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