It’s estimated that about 25% of people are chronic snorers . While not everyone who snores will have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), people who snore regularly may suffer from this condition, which causes the airway to become blocked and stop breathing during sleep.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to snoring, but for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a surprising professional may be able to help treat snoring and reduce the symptoms of OSA—the dentist. How can your dentist potentially help treat your snoring?
Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea
Oral appliances are devices that fit like a retainer and help gently reposition your jaw to keep your airway open while you sleep . These custom-made devices are much less cumbersome than continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, and they also tend to be more comfortable.
Patients who have not seen success with CPAP machines or those looking for an alternative to conventional sleep apnea therapy may qualify for an oral appliance, sometimes referred to as a mandibular advancement splint. You can find out if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy by scheduling a consultation with an experienced dentist.
Can Your Dentist Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
While your dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea, they can screen you for sleep apnea by asking a few questions and examining your oral cavity, which may show signs of dry mouth or teeth grinding, both of which have been linked to sleep apnea .
If your dentist suspects you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, they can refer you to a sleep specialist who can further evaluate you and potentially make a diagnosis. Once you have a diagnosis, your dentist may be able to assist you with treatment.
What to Know About Oral Appliance Therapy
Not everyone will qualify for treatment with oral appliance therapy. The best candidates are those who have mild to moderate sleep apnea. People who have severe sleep apnea will generally need to consider alternative treatments before they can consider oral appliance therapy.
These appliances must be worn nightly to work. By keeping your airway open, they help prevent the cessation of breathing that happens with sleep apnea, which means you can get a good night’s sleep and reduce your symptoms, such as daytime fatigue, headaches, and irritability .
For those who qualify, oral appliance therapy can improve their quality of life. You won’t need to travel with, clean, and maintain a CPAP machine. Oral appliances can also make sleeping more comfortable, further supporting their effectiveness.
Don’t Ignore Your Snoring
While occasional snoring may not be an issue, regular snoring or waking in the night gasping for air can be symptoms of sleep apnea. Don’t ignore your snoring, especially if you have other health issues such as high blood pressure or fatigue—see your dentist to talk about sleep apnea and get referred to a sleep specialist today.