The subject of dental sleep medicine focuses on treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), two complex conditions that can affect your health in a variety of ways. While many people snore occasionally, some people have a serious problem with snoring on a nightly basis. This can ultimately affect their health and compromise their relationships with others.
Over twenty million people in the United States have some form of OSA or heavy snoring that isn't treatable with over the counter remedies. These people can seek help from a specialist in dental sleep medicine to find the cause of the snoring and treat it properly.
An oral appliance is a form of dental sleep medicine sometimes used to keep your airway open by keeping the jaw and tongue in the proper position and stabilizing them. This often helps alleviate snoring caused by relaxation of the mouth and throat muscles, which narrows your airway. The oral appliance will hold the jaw and tongue forward, keep the uvula and soft palette in the proper position, and help with muscle tone over time.
While there are over the counter mouthpieces available, these are seldom effective because they aren't fitted for your mouth. Using a one size fits all approach to dental sleep medicine doesn't work because every individual's mouth is different. In fact, some mouthpieces can lead to damage because they don't work properly with your jaw alignment and teeth, leading to more dental or jaw problems. A custom fitted oral appliance will fit better, be more comfortable, and give you better results.
Your dentist can work with you and a sleep specialist or your doctor to create a dental sleep medicine solution that is right for you. He or she will take into account your lifestyle, snoring pattern, and general health when deciding the appropriate course of treatment.
Why Dental Sleep Medicine Is So Important
You may think snoring doesn't do anything more than annoy your partner (which can cause you plenty of pain anyway), but snoring and OSA can lead to serious health complications. If you are deprived of the right amount of oxygen for even a few seconds during the night, it can lead to greater problems down the road, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, headaches, and insomnia. Short term problems include difficulty with concentration, exhaustion, irritability, and a compromised immune system. Don't put off treatment another day; dental sleep medicine can correct the problem quickly and get you back on track toward a good night's sleep and good health.