An estimated 30 million Americans may have sleep apnea. A sleep disorder characterized by interrupted breathing, the most common form often produces loud snoring followed by silence when breathing stops. While your brain wakes you enough to restart breathing, these interruptions can happen as many as 30 times an hour. Restful parts of your sleep cycle end, leaving you tired the next day, even when it seems you slept adequately. You may not be aware of the problem, though a sleep partner could complain of loud snoring.
Don’t be surprised if dentist Lisa Wyatt, DDS, of Metairie Village Dentistry asks you how you’re sleeping during an exam. Sometimes, the first symptoms (beyond the snoring) are dental. Tooth wear, receding gums, and an increase in cavities could all suggest you have sleep apnea.
While you need a medical diagnosis for obstructive sleep apnea before you can pursue treatment, Dr. Wyatt and our team can help you find a dental solution to sleep easier and relieve your snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
The most common form of the condition, obstructive sleep apnea results, as its name suggests, from obstruction of the airways while you sleep. Blockages result from the collapse of the soft palate at the back of your mouth, the relaxation of throat tissue, anatomically small airways, or a combination of conditions that restricts the flow of air as you breathe while sleeping.
OSA occurs when the obstructions are so severe that breathing stops. You may wake gasping for air, or you might not awake fully, shifting enough to start breathing again but not enough to become conscious. Regardless of the level of disturbance, your body comes out of its deepest sleep state. Chronic OSA links to significant health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
How dentistry can treat your sleep apnea
A dental appliance that improves breathing is a simple and effective device to change the spacing of your lower jaw, creating enough separation to widen your airway. Most OSA mouthpieces resemble an athletic mouthguard, custom designed for fitting over your teeth. That results in a comfortable appliance that is easy to wear.
An innovative and advanced treatment is the Fotona® NightLase®. NightLase uses a specially-designed laser to selectively warm the throat lining to tighten the collagen support layers below the surface. NightLase consists of a series of three treatments over six weeks. Results last up to 12 months before you come back to our office for another treatment. Your session is painless and non-invasive. You can return to your regular activities immediately after.
When you’ve been diagnosed with OSA, talk to the team at Metairie Village Dentistry to learn more about simple and effective dentist treatments for OSA. These solutions are drug-free and require no uncomfortable nighttime breathing apparatus.
Request an appointment online or by phone. You can discuss your options with Dr. Wyatt and together decide on a treatment plan that suits your lifestyle. Book a session today at our office in Metairie, Louisiana, for a better night’s sleep in the near future.