Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition affecting up to 1 in 15 American adults. Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. This condition occurs when the airway becomes blocked during the night, and the patient starts and stops breathing as a result.
Orthodontists are the best-qualified dental specialists to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea using custom oral appliances. Since orthodontists are most familiar with the structure of the jaw, face, tongue, and teeth, they can understand the causes of sleep apnea and work to eliminate them.
How Custom Oral Appliances Work
Our practice provides custom oral appliances to control mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The patient wears these devices in their mouth at night, similar to a night guard for teeth grinding or an orthodontic retainer. The appliance keeps the jaw forward and the tongue from collapsing into the airway.
Oral appliances can help with more serious cases of sleep apnea when a patient cannot tolerate a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) apparatus.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Risk factors for developing sleep apnea include:
- Being overweight: This condition can lead to excess tissue in the neck and throat that could block the airway.
- Alcohol use and smoking
- Age: Older people are more prone to sleep apnea.
- Sex: Men are more likely to be diagnosed.
- Head and neck anatomy: People with larger tongues or shorter jaws have a greater risk of developing sleep apnea.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
Here are some of the signs that you may have sleep apnea:
Frequently, the first sign that a patient has sleep apnea is snoring so loudly that their partners and family members experience poor sleep quality.
Frequent Starts and Stops in Breathing
Patients with sleep apnea stop breathing at times during the night.
Waking Up Gasping For Air
Many patients with sleep apnea wake up to find themselves struggling for air.
Feeling Exhausted in the Morning
People with sleep apnea frequently feel tired in the morning even if they believe they slept all night.
Having a headache in the morning is a common side effect.
Consequences of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is more than loud snoring. It is a potentially hazardous condition that affects many other bodily systems. These consequences include:
- Heart Problems including Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Heart Failure
- High Blood Pressure
Our Collaboration with Medical Professionals
Dr. Demko works closely with local ear, nose, and throat specialists (ENTs), sleep clinics, and sleep medicine specialists. If these physicians determine that oral appliance treatment is best for your situation, they will refer you to Dr. Demko for help.
Contact Demko Orthodontics
If you believe you have sleep apnea, prompt treatment is necessary to prevent future medical complications. Contact us at one of our convenient Missouri offices to make an appointment or ask questions about sleep apnea treatment.