Snoring and sleep apnea: how your orthodontist can help

When’s the last time you had a great night of sleep? The kind where you wake up feeling totally rested, refreshed, and ready to face your day? If you’re one of the millions of Americans who snore or struggle with sleep apnea, you probably don’t “rise and shine” too often.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with your orthodontist. A whole lot, actually! There’s an entire aspect of dental medicine that focuses on treating sleep-disordered breathing with oral appliance therapy. So, if you’ve had a sleep study and been diagnosed with sleep-disordered breathing or sleep apnea, visit us to see how orthodontic appliances can help you catch better ZZZZ’s.

The roar of the snore

Loud, frequent snoring not only disturbs the person sleeping next to you, but it also wreaks havoc on your own sleeping patterns. Even after a full night of sleep (or so you think), you may still feel tired, irritable, and have difficulty concentrating or staying awake throughout the day.

Here’s why: although you are likely not consciously aware of it, but your body wakes up numerous times throughout the night when you snore. If you have sleep apnea, your body can wake up as many as several hundreds of times each night. No wonder you’re so tired!

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes you to physically stop breathing during sleep. When you fall asleep, the muscles of your upper airway naturally relax. If you are sleeping on your back, gravity may also cause your tongue to fall back. This narrows your airway, reducing the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The narrowed airway also makes the tissue in the back of your throat vibrate as you breathe–cue the snoring.

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, although not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Snoring is more likely to be a sign of sleep apnea when it’s followed by choking or gasping sounds or silent pauses between breaths. Other sleep apnea symptoms include daytime fatigue, morning headaches, and memory loss.

Solve your sleep problems in the orthodontist’s chair

If you had no idea that an orthodontist could help you get better sleep, you’re not alone! Thankfully, it’s true. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine confirms that oral appliance therapy is a proven and effective treatment for both snoring and obstructed sleep apnea.

Following a sleep study and diagnosis from your medical doctor, a specialized orthodontist can help determine which oral appliance is ideal for you. An oral appliance is a device that is worn over your teeth while you sleep–it usually resembles a mouthguard or an orthodontic retainer. This device prevents your airway from collapsing by holding your tongue in position or sliding your jaw forward so you can breathe more easily.

Many patients prefer sleeping with an oral appliance over using a CPAP machine, which can be bulky, noisy, and difficult to transport. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea or cannot tolerate a CPAP machine, oral appliance therapy may be the perfect solution for you.

The lifestyle benefits of oral appliance therapy

As orthodontists, we do everything we can to provide treatments that seamlessly fit into your lifestyle. Oral appliances that focus on improving sleep are no exception. Patients often choose oral appliance therapy over a CPAP machine and other treatment options because the appliances are:

  • Less invasive
  • Quiet
  • Portable
  • Easy to wear
  • Comfortable
  • Convenient
  • Easy to maintain

All this plus better sleep? It’s not hard to see why oral appliances are such a popular solution.

Oral appliance options

Ross Orthodontics offers several types of oral appliances for your consideration, and your orthodontist will custom-fit the ideal appliance for your specific needs. Popular options include the Elevate® appliance, EMA® (elastic mandibular advancement) appliance, and the Herbst® sleep appliance.

Fitting you for an oral appliance

Dr. Ross will start by asking several screening questions and taking x-ray images of your mouth – this is all part of our initial consultation. Once you select your oral appliance, the orthodontist will take impressions of your mouth to create a custom appliance just for you. Adjustments can be made at any time to ensure that you are comfortable and your airway remains open. Learning how to properly care for your device is also important, so we’ll be sure to provide you with instructions.

Ready to stop snoring? Schedule an appointment today

At Ross Orthodontics, we care about your health – and getting quality sleep is a huge part of that. The lack of oxygen caused by sleep apnea can lead to major health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or depression.

It’s time to stop snoring and start sleeping better! After completing your sleep study, schedule a consultation today to find out how Dr. Ross can help. Because your time is just as valuable to us as it is to you, we take care of everything in one convenient visit, including:

  • One-on-one time with a doctor so we can get to know you
  • Digital x-rays and an iTero® 3D mouth scan
  • Impressions for a custom appliance

We can’t wait to meet you!