Oral appliances available at the dentist's office are not limited to night-guards for teeth-grinding or mouth-guards for protection while playing sports. When properly fitted by the Big Smile Dental team, an oral appliance can effectively and comfortably treat a serious medical condition affecting upwards of 18 million Americans: obstructive sleep apnea.
The Dentist: On the frontline of sleep apnea
If you're like a lot of people, you are seeing the Big Smile Dental professionals at least every six months for checkups and cleanings, whereas you may only see your family doctor for the annual visit. The dentist may be the first medical professional to take note of a potential problem with how you breathe at night.
They may notice or ask questions about the following, which are signs of this condition:
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Fatigue during the day
- Difficulty falling asleep
Snoring is also a common sign of sleep apnea, especially if it's chronic and is so loud that it wakes your partner. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis. A sleep study may be ordered, which can require an overnight stay at a sleep center where staff monitor functions at rest such as muscle activity, heart rate, airflow, levels of blood oxygen, and respiratory efforts. The test can not only confirm a sleep apnea diagnosis, but it can be used to determine the severity of your condition.
You may be sent back to Big Smile Dental for treatment, especially if it's determined that your symptoms are mild to moderate. Severe cases may require use of a CPAP machine.
Oral appliances offer an effective way to treat sleep apnea, without the hassle and noise of CPAP, which lowers patient's compliance. Even if you are not diagnosed with apnea, an appliance worn while you sleep can be used to reduce snoring. Music to the ears of your loved ones!
Resembling a mouth-guard, the appliance holds your jaw slightly forward, preventing soft tissues at the back of the throat from blocking your airway.
There are more than 100 FDA-approved oral appliances. Your trusted professional at Big Smile Dental is skilled at identifying the best device for you, and fitting the appliance to your unique needs. They do not require a lengthy adjustment period. Since they're small, they are easy to transport and comfortable to wear. This treatment may be combined with lifestyle modifications. The Big Smile Dental team may suggest changes to sleep position, and that you stop smoking or alter your diet, as excess weight and tobacco use are among risk factors.
To find out more about apnea treatment at your Chicago dentist's office, schedule an appointment. Call 773-772-8400.
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