Sleep Apnea

The Dentist and Sleep Apnea

A dentist might not diagnose you with sleep apnea, but a doctor might recommend you see one if you have been diagnosed. Why? What does the dentist have to do with sleep patterns? A diagnoses of sleep apnea means the muscles in the tongue and throat areas cause tissues to block air from getting to the lungs. This occurs when you are relaxed, or sleeping. In most cases, a CPAP machine can be used for treatment, but for some this in not ideal. The dentist can prescribe some mouth devices for treating sleep apnea.

What kinds of mouth devices can be used for sleep apnea?

If your sleep apnea is mild or moderate, the dentist may be able prescribe a mouth piece to help treat the condition effectively.  However, in order for the device to work properly to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea, it must be properly fitted by an orthodontist or dentist. They may recommend on of two types of common devices.

  • MAD – The Mandibular Advancement Device is commonly used to treat sleep apnea. It looks very similar to a basic mouth guard used by athletes. The device snaps over upper and lower arches and contain metal hinges that allow the bottom jaw to ease forward.
  • Tongue Retraining Device – This device is not used as frequently as the MAD. It prevents the tongue from relaxing too much so the airway remains open.

Either of these devices may be used to help improve the sleep of people who suffer from mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.