How can a dentist treat sleep apnea or snoring?
Sleep apnea is a condition that can have serious health ramifications. All snorers do not have sleep apnea, and all patients suffering from sleep apnea do not necessarily snore.
Most dentists will recommend the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for patients seeking treatment for snoring or sleep apnea. CPAP is a popular treatment because it works well when patients are able to use the machine as instructed.
CPAP works via an air mask worn by the patient that is connected to a continuous flow of air. This steady air means patients suffering from sleep apnea don’t have to worry about breathing through the night.
The biggest problem with CPAP is that many patients don’t use it as directed. Some patients find it uncomfortable and noisy; others find that they develop a rash from the mask. Regardless of the reason patients don’t follow instructions, CPAP won't be a good solution for treating sleep apnea if it isn’t used the way it should be.
There are alternative treatments available, including oral appliance therapy (OAT). OAT has been shown to be effective, particularly in those patients with milder cases of sleep apnea. The appliance works by moving the lower jaw forward, which in turn opens up the airway because it allows more room for the soft tissue at the back of the throat.