Though it may sound strange, sleep apnea sufferers can get effective and lasting treatment for the blockage that cuts of their breathing at night by a dentist.
Although the usual treatment is CPAP, a pressurized air machine that forces a stream of air through the nose or mouth to keep air passageways open, sometimes all that is needed is a dental appliance that changes the position of the jaws while you sleep. We offer sleep apnea treatment at Leesburg Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by something that blocks air from freely flowing while a person sleeps. Often it is tissue at the back of the throat, or even the tongue. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. The sound comes from the air rattling through the blockage. People who suffer from sleep apnea literally stop breathing many times during the night. When this happens to you, you will wake up to catch your breath and fall asleep again, usually without even realizing it. Typically, sleep apnea sufferers will wake up in the morning feeling groggy or with a headache.
“For years I struggled to sleep at night with my CPAP machine. Then I found out about oral appliance therapy from Dr. Whitman. Not only do I sleep better, but my sleep apnea symptoms have majorly improved—I’m very grateful to her!”
— Jada, Morven Park
After being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) at the age of 37, Jada’s doctor suggested a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help alleviate her sleep apnea symptoms.
“The machine was not only noisy, but very uncomfortable to sleep with. But I didn’t think I had another choice, so I used it,” says Jada, who has used CPAP in the five years since her diagnosis.
However, since the machine still prevented her from getting high-quality sleep, Jada’s sleep apnea symptoms only partially subsided.
When Jada informed Dr. Whitman of her OSA diagnosis during a checkup, Dr. Whitman asked if Jada had ever tried oral appliance therapy. Instead of a machine, an oral appliance fits easily into the mouth to keep the airway open when sleeping.
Jada says her life hasn’t been the same since. “The oral appliance is so much better than CPAP. I’m seeing real results after just a couple months. I’m really thankful for Dr. Whitman’s care!”
You must see a medical doctor for a sleep test to diagnose sleep apnea. Once diagnosed, most doctors prescribe a machine like a CPAP or BiPAP. But many patients find these machines and their attached hoses and masks cumbersome, noisy, and inconvenient for traveling. Once you have been diagnosed, you can consult with Dr. Whitman to discuss the dental treatment alternatives.
Dental Treatment to Open Up the Airways
The alternative to traditional forced air machines is an oral appliance or splint. By being custom designed to fit your mouth, the splint will gently position your teeth and jaws for free air flow without blockage. Wearing this comfortable appliance every night can allow you to sleep through the night, stop snoring and wake up feeling refreshed.
Sleep Apnea FAQs
Here are some questions that are commonly asked about sleep apnea and dental treatment for it.
Can sleep apnea always be treated by a dentist?
Obstructive sleep apnea can usually be treated with an oral appliance. But there is another type of sleep apnea, called central sleep apnea, which is not caused by obstruction. Central sleep apnea is much less common, but if you are diagnosed with it, you must get treatment from a medical doctor.
I have been told my obstructive sleep apnea is severe. Can I still get treatment with an oral appliance?
An oral appliance can treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. For severe cases, CPAP is considered the standard of care.
Are there any permanent solutions for sleep apnea?
For some patients, physicians may recommend surgical procedures to correct the cause of sleep apnea. Patients who have dental malocclusion (a bad bite) could find relief by having orthodontic treatment to correct the bite and straighten the teeth.
“Me and my family have been with Dr. Whitman for many years. She makes my 12 and 7 year old feel comfortable and not fear the dentist. When needed in the case of an emergency,
the practice always gets us in quickly. PS, all of the staff is extremely friendly.” 5 out of 5 stars – Shane Dowler on 03/20/2018
“Dr. Kime Whitman is highly accomplished, intelligent and kind. In her dentistry she is meticulous, careful, low key, soft spoken, efficient, effective and gentle. One cannot be in better hands than with Dr Whitman.” 5 out of 5 stars – Sandy Marks on 06/11/2018
“Dr Whitman is fantastic! She is really gentle and deals well with patients that have anxiety. Not only is she wonderful but so is her entire staff. They are all very friendly and personable.” 5 out of 5 stars – Cat Leftely on 02/02/2017