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Sleep Apnea: How Your Dentist Can Help

By Jill Feilmeier on July 19, 2012 in Healthy Living

Dentist talking to patient

Do you snore? Snoring is a warning sign of obstructive sleep apnea. If you in fact have sleep apnea, your throat muscles and tongue collapse onto the back of your throat, block your airway and make you stop breathing repeatedly all night. There are some things you can do to help prevent snoring:

  • Lose some weight.
    As little as 10 pounds may be enough to make a difference.
  • Change your sleep position.
    Try sleeping on your side instead of your back.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and large meals, especially close to bedtime.
  • Avoid sedatives.
    They can relax your throat muscles and increase snoring.

If these home remedies don't seem to work, your doctor or dentist might be able to help.

One treatment for sleep apnea is a plastic oral appliance that can help keep your breathing passages open as you sleep.  Another option is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This mask blows pressurized air through your airway to keep your throat open as you sleep.

Which option might be right for you?

First, visit your doctor and have a sleep center diagnose the severity of your apnea. They will be able to help assess your needs and which option might be right for you.

If an oral appliance is right you will be referred to a dentist or orthodontist familiar with sleep apnea. Oral appliances often work best for:

  • People who are not obese
  • People who have mild to moderate sleep apnea
  • Those who cannot tolerate wearing the CPAP mask

No matter which option is right for you, nothing will be more relaxing that resting easy at night.