Many people are surprised when they visit the dentist and the dentist asks them about their
sleep habits. One of the most common sleep problems is sleep apnea. This is when you stop
breathing for short periods while you’re asleep. Many people with sleep apnea do not realize
they have it. Instead, they just wake up feeling as if they haven’t sufficiently rested. So, your
doctor might ask you about waking up feeling out of breath or waking up several times
throughout the night.They’ll then inspect your mouth and perhaps offer you solutions to help
Dental appliances are items that you wear while you are sleeping to help you with your sleep.
They sometimes work because there are two kinds of sleep apnea. There is obstructive sleep
apnea and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea involves your brain not sending the proper
signals to your brain to breathe while you’re asleep. A dentist likely can’t help you with that, buy
dental appliances will help rule out the other kind of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is
associated with obesity. It involves the soft tissues of the mouth and throat sagging and blocking
the airway. A dentist will often recommend sleep appliances. A dental appliances is also known as a jaw advancement device or a mandibular advancing device. They push the jaw forward while you sleep so that the soft tissues of the mouth won’t block your airway. This treatment is often combined with weight loss.
Obstructive sleep apnea involves a total or near-total obstruction of the airway while you are sleeping. A partial obstruction usually manifests as snoring. A mandibular advancement device will work in many cases of snoring as well. If it doesn’t work, the dentist might try a tongue-retaining device. This device holds the tongue in the proper place for unobstructed sleep. Over time, you might even start to hold your tongue there on your own due to muscle memory. Snoring sometimes is an indication of sleep apnea, but not always. In most cases, it’s just annoying to your spouse. To determine the difference, someone will need to observe you sleep. Pauses in your snoring, choking, and waking episodes can indicate that your snoring is actually sleep apnea.
Lastly, a dentist might attempt a rapid maxillary expansion. This involves screwing a device into
the upper teeth to reduce nasal pressure.
These are a few of the ways your dentist can help you with your sleep. Have questions about any of these options? Call Dr. Blaisdell's office today at 208-459-2376 to schedule an appointment!