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Snoring woman in bedMost people take a good night’s sleep for granted, but for those patients who’re suffering from sleep apnea, even eight hours of sleep may not be enough for them to wake feeling rested. This sleep disorder causes repeated stirring through the night that prevents patients from entering the deep restorative level of sleep they need to wake feeling rested. You may not think a trip to the dentist is what you need if you’re suffering from this sleep disorder, but skilled Richardson sleep dentist, Meredith G. Davis, DDS, offers patients customized oral appliances as a viable alternative to the bulky CPAP treatment most often used by sleep doctors. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, are CPAP intolerant, or you’re concerned you may be suffering from this common sleep disorder, call to schedule a sleep apnea therapy consultation with our Richardson dentist and team. We look forward to helping you achieve a better night’s sleep.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when patients cease breathing for ten or more seconds at a time during sleep. While patients may experience a few of these events during sleep, those diagnosed with sleep apnea may experience 100s or 1000s of apnea events every night. When patients cease breathing, the body is jolted awake by a panic response to restart breathing, preventing them from entering the deep, rejuvenating levels of sleep they need to wake feeling rested. There are two forms of this disorder – central and obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to trigger the body to breathe. This is a rare form of the disorder, and it may require advanced interventions from medical professionals or neurologists. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common and easier to treat. It occurs when the airway is physically blocked during sleep.

How Do I Know I have Sleep Apnea?

The only way to know for sure that you’re suffering from sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep study through a sleep clinic or at-home sleep study provider. We can help you coordinate these studies, if our team believes you may be struggling with this sleep disorder. Anyone can suffer from sleep apnea, but there are some factors that increase your risk, including being male, over the age of 50, or struggling with obesity. If you are an at-risk patient and/or you’ve notice the following warning signs, let our team know:

Tired man with head in hands

Why Should I Visit a Dentist for Sleep Apnea Treatment?

Man placing his oral applianceDentists have advanced training in the way the oral and facial structures, including the airway, interact. They can help you with treatments for sleep apnea, but in some cases, the underlying cause of obstructive sleep apnea is actually an issue with the alignment of the jaw and facial bones. By treating these underlying concerns, dentists deliver permanent relief for some sleep apnea sufferers.

What Sleep Apnea Therapies are Available?

Dentist checking the fit of woman’s oral applianceTraditionally, patients receive treatment using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) systems. As the name suggests, CPAP uses constant airflow to keep the airway open during sleep, but many patients find themselves unable to adjust to the sounds and sensations of these treatments. These patients are considered to be CPAP intolerant, and they are ideal candidates to consider treatment using custom crafted sleep apnea oral appliances from Dr. Davis. These appliances open the airway the same way that you learn to clear blockage during CPR training. When you begin the mouth to mouth portion of CPR training, you’re instructed to tilt the head back and lift the jaw forward and down. This places pressure on the throat muscles to keep the airway clear. Oral appliances are custom crafted to fit your bite, and they are adjusted to move the jaw forward until the throat muscles are taut and the airway remains unblocked throughout the night. For some patients, combining CPAP and oral appliances offers the ultimate treatment option. The oral appliance already keeps the airway open, so the CPAP system can be used at lower settings that make it easier for patients to adjust.

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