Sleep Apnea and Your Oral Health: Sleep Appliances Can Help
Sleep is an essential part of our lives, and as we journey through the years, our sleep patterns often change. Most people discover that falling asleep becomes a bit more challenging with age. They find themselves waking up during the night and sometimes earlier in the morning. Interestingly, even though the total time we spend sleeping remains roughly the same, around 6.5–7 hours per night, the quality of our sleep can vary.
As we age, we should consider another important factor: the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) tends to increase. It’s a condition where our breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, often without us even realizing it. What’s concerning is that older adults might not always recognize the symptoms of poor sleep quality.
In this article, we’ll explore the connection between sleep patterns, aging, and how sleep appliances can play a crucial role in maintaining your oral health and overall well-being.
Can sleep appliances help those with apnea?
Sleep apnea is widespread, affecting as many as 18 million Americans. To put it in perspective, that’s around 1 in every 15 Americans, roughly 6.62% of the entire population. Therefore, sleep apnea is a matter that we can’t overlook.
Good quality sleep isn’t just about feeling refreshed; it’s essential for maintaining your health and well-being. Proper sleep reduces the likelihood of issues like bad breath, mouth ulcers, and the development and progression of periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease. Sleep apnea can also lead to dental problems, like TMJ disorders, bruxism (teeth grinding), and mouth breathing.
Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea is crucial. Common symptoms include:
- Reduced and absent breathing
- Loud and frequent snoring
- Gasping for air when sleeping
- Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Decreases in attention and concentration
- Dry mouth and headaches upon waking
- Nocturia (waking up often during the night to urinate)
- Sexual dysfunction and/or decreased libido
Now, let’s talk about how sleep appliances can be a game-changer in improving your sleep quality.
Different Types of Sleep Appliances
When it comes to addressing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults, there are two primary types of oral appliances to consider: mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue-retaining devices (TRDs). Additionally, a specialized treatment called rapid maxillary expansion (RME) is designed for children with obstructive sleep apnea.
Effectiveness of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. What’s remarkable is the high compliance rate, with around 90% of users adhering to oral appliance therapy, while CPAP therapy records about a 50% compliance rate.
Types of Sleep Appliances
- Positive airway pressure (PAP) devices: These machines are a mainstay in sleep apnea treatment and come in various types, including the Continuous PAP (CPAP), which provides a continuous stream of air pressure to keep airways open. Another option is the Auto-Adjusting PAP (APAP), which adjusts air pressure in real time based on your breathing patterns. Finally, the Bilevel PAP (BiPAP) offers different pressure levels for inhaling and exhaling.
- Mouth guards: Custom-fitted sleep apnea mouth guards come in different designs and materials. The Mandibular Repositioning Device (MRD) shifts the lower jaw forward to prevent airway blockage. These can come in a one-piece design that fixes upper and lower laws. Or, a two-piece design can allow more jaw movement and flexibility. And tongue-retaining devices keep the tongue forward, preventing it from collapsing into the airway. They resemble a pacifier, but you insert your tongue into the device, secured by suction.
Sleep Appliances and How They Work
MADs advance the lower jaw slightly forward, creating more space in the throat. This repositioning prevents the tongue and soft tissues from blocking the airway. TRDs, on the other hand, maintain the tongue’s forward position, preventing airway obstruction.
In summary, the right sleep appliance can significantly treat sleep apnea, ensure a better night’s sleep, and preserve oral health. Consult your dentist to find the most suitable option for your specific needs.
Benefits of Sleep Appliances
Investing in a sleep appliance for sleep apnea treatment can offer a range of advantages beyond ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep. Here’s a closer look at the benefits:
1. Improved Sleep Quality
Sleep appliances can significantly enhance your sleep quality by preventing interruptions caused by sleep apnea. This leads to more restful and rejuvenating sleep, helping you feel refreshed.
2. Elimination or Reduction of Snoring
Sleep appliances can also tackle the common snoring problem, ensuring a quieter and more peaceful night’s sleep for you and your bed partner.
3. Reduced Risk of Dental Problems
Sleep apnea often contributes to dental issues like bruxism (teeth grinding) and TMJ disorders. Sleep appliances can help mitigate these problems, protecting your dental health.
4. Potential Impact on Overall Health
By addressing sleep apnea effectively, these appliances not only enhance your oral health but also positively affect your overall well-being. Better sleep can improve focus, alertness, and mood during the day.
You can take significant steps towards a healthier, more vibrant life with the right sleep appliance tailored to your needs. Sleep well, stay healthy, and safeguard your oral and overall health with these remarkable devices.
How to get started with sleep appliances.
Now that you know what sleep apnea is, the signs to watch out for, and the benefits of a sleep apnea mouth guard, it’s time to take action to improve your sleep and overall well-being. Remember, only a doctor can provide a definitive diagnosis for sleep apnea, so if you’re experiencing any signs, be sure to get tested.
Your dentist, however, can be your ally in the journey to better sleep. They can help you explore the option of a sleep apnea mouth guard, especially if a Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) device isn’t convenient or effective for you. These custom-fitted mouth guards can make a real difference for your sleep quality and overall health.
Don’t let sleep apnea disrupt your life and health. Consult your dentist at Parmer Lane Family Dentistry to take the first step towards better sleep. We can guide you in choosing the right sleep appliance to ensure you get the peaceful, restful nights you deserve.
Request an appointment and get a better night’s sleep.