Dr. Kyle Lowe has trained at The Metz Center for Sleep Apnea in fitting our patients for Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT).
If you’ve been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), then you’ve probably heard that CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy is one of the best treatments. At The Grove City Center for Dentistry, we understand that, for many people, using their CPAP machine every night just isn’t feasible. Patients find it uncomfortable to wear the mask on a regular basis or experience other issues that prevent them from wearing it.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) has long been recognized by dentists as the best alternative treatment for people who are diagnosed with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Oral appliances are mouthpieces worn at night. Such appliances position the lower jaw forward, allowing more room for the soft tissues of the throat and opening up the airway.
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
As part of the OAT process, Dr. Lowe will fit you for a comfortable, user-friendly night guard that helps keep your airways open so you can breathe easy at night. This night guard also will allow you to open and close your mouth naturally, so you’ll experience limited interruptions while wearing the appliance.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing is interrupted or “paused” throughout your sleep cycle. These pauses can occur multiple times throughout the night and can last for just a few seconds or minutes at a time. When the muscles in the back of the throat are overly relaxed or your tongue is too large for your jaw your airway can become obstructed and your breathing will be interrupted.
When your breathing is paused during sleep, your body’s automatic response is to gasp for breath, causing you to wake up. This continuous pattern throughout the night affects your sleep quality and causes fatigue.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
In many cases, grinding your teeth is one of the first signs of sleep apnea. Also called bruxism, teeth griding can lead to other dental health issues that Dr. Kyle Lowe and Dr. Bryan Simone will look for during your exam. They will look for these symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Inflamed gums
- Jaw or temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?
Snoring is the primary reason we consult with patients regarding sleep disorders, breathing and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Although snoring can be a sign of OSA, it doesn’t mean you actually have OSA. And, some patients who are diagnosed with OSA do not snore.
Does sleep apnea cause other health problems?
Sleep apnea can be linked to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. If you experience symptoms of teeth grinding (bruxism) or sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with Dr. Lowe at our office for a consultation.
Are TMJ and Sleep Apnea related?
Yes. According to the National Institute of Health, jaw pain and sleep disruption are related. Your temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to move your jaw up and down and side-to-side. Frequent, long-term teeth grinding (bruxism) can lead to chronic jaw pain or temporomandibular disorder. This condition is frequently referred to as TMD or TMJ.
As we mention above, if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea your body’s automatic response is to suddenly move your jaw to open up the airway. This constant motion of teeth grinding and sudden jaw movements throughout the night can cause stress on your temporomandibular joint, causing TMJ or TMD.
How do you use Oral Appliance Therapy to treat Sleep Apnea, Bruxism or TMJ?
At The Grove City Center for Dentistry, Dr. Lowe takes the time to understand your symptoms, concerns and any test results. He also consults with the appropriate medical professionals involved with your OSA diagnosis. Then, he will work with you to identify the best treatment for your level of sleep apnea.
What are other solutions to sleep apnea?
If you have mild to moderate OSA, simple changes to your daily life could help ease your symptoms and get you feeling better fast.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and obesity increases your chances of developing OSA. Weight loss can help improve many overall health issues, including better sleep habits and patterns.
We also know that sleeping on your back causes snoring. By doing something as simple as changing the way you sleep, you may be able to reduce or eliminate snoring. This is known as positional therapy. It may take time, but the goal is to train yourself to sleep on your side instead of your back. Over time, your OSA symptoms may diminish.
If you have additional questions about Sleep Apnea Treatment, contact us at email@example.com or 614-945-4591 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lowe. Feel free to use our online contact form below, or even click to schedule a consultation online.