Nothing beats good quality sleep, as it prepares you to face the day and be as productive as possible. However, conditions like sleep apnea can compromise your ability to maintain healthy sleep patterns because of the interference in breathing. Over the years, researchers have identified the symptoms, side effects, and treatment options available for patients living with the condition.
By applying the recommended practices, you can achieve better sleep for a healthier lifestyle. Among the various treatment options is oral therapy using dental devices. They perform different functions depending on the selected device, aiming to prevent breathing interference caused by sleep apnea. When you decide to seek treatment for the condition, you want to work with experienced and qualified dentists who provide reliable treatment services.
The dentist should be knowledgeable in using dental appliances to manage the sleep apnea conditions according to each patient's needs. At Washington Dental, you have a chance to access reliable dental services in Carson, Lomita, and Torrance, California. Our wealth of experience in providing oral treatment for sleep apnea has provided multiple patients with the opportunity to have better overall health. Additionally, our compassionate team of professionals understands the challenges associated with treatment and is available to support you in case of hardships arising.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
When you experience difficulties in breathing when asleep, your diagnosis may be sleep apnea. The condition is characterized by the collapse of muscles near your throat and trachea region, making it difficult for air to travel in and out of the nose. Typically, most patients are unable to determine their condition because it mainly occurs when they are asleep. As a result, you may experience the symptoms without fully understanding the underlying cause.
There are three types of sleep apnea arising from different conditions within your body. They are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Mixed sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
However, the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea that arises when a blockage occurs in your airway. This blockage may be partial or full, depending on your sleeping position. As a result, you may receive little to no air at a time, limiting your sleep quality.
The limited supply of air can also cause several conditions because the brain receives less oxygen than required. Moreover, after the muscles surrounding your airway collapse, your lungs and diaphragm cannot create enough rhythm for continuous air intake. Consequently, the body's auto-response system creates a lot of pressure in the breathing system to help you breathe again. For most patients, this results in waking up suddenly for a gasp of air.
Obstructive sleep apnea is potentially detrimental to your quality of life, as your sleeping pattern is often disrupted. Additionally, the recurrent conditions may take a toll on your mental health by making you feel hopeless and tired constantly.
Central sleep apnea originated from improper stability in your central nervous system. From the condition, signals that automate your breathing mechanism do not work as expected, meaning that you may stop breathing for several periods at a time. As a result, you will experience similar effects as those associated with obstructive sleep apnea, including fatigue and interrupted sleep.
Lastly, mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. A patient experiencing this condition may require intensive treatment that includes surgical methods to remedy the problem entirely.
Symptoms Associated With Sleep Apnea
As mentioned, finding out about your condition is not always straightforward. However, most patients will experience recurrent symptoms. Studies conducted in previous years have linked these symptoms to sleep apnea, notably because of the direct effects on the patient. Common symptoms to look out for include:
Fatigue After Waking Up
Fatigue is attributed to different factors, including poor quality of sleep. Doubtless, sleep apnea interrupts your sleep throughout the night, making your brain less receptive and active when you need it the most. Patients who report feeling groggy and tired after waking up are advised to see a medical professional who can diagnose their condition and help them receive treatment.
Additionally, fatigue may arise from the inadequacy of oxygen distribution in the body, especially in the brain. Consequently, you may face a difficult time in processing your thoughts and starting your day well.
Headaches are also closely linked to sleep apnea, particularly from fatigue. When you wake up multiple times from improper breathing, your brain receptors become strained, and several parts of the brain may therefore swell. The result is experiencing recurrent headaches that may last throughout the day.
Snoring When Sleeping
If you have a partner or roommate, he/she may help you determine the possibility of having sleep apnea. You may inquire on whether you snore when asleep, which is a common symptom. The snoring occurs because your airway muscles block air from flowing through the trachea to different parts of your breathing system. From the blockage, vibrations occur and cause snoring.
Sometimes, the snoring may reduce when you change your sleeping position. The rationale behind this is because you will have reduced the amount of pressure exerted on the airway muscles. Nevertheless, changing your sleeping position should not be a substitute for seeking comprehensive treatment.
Disrupted Sleep that Begins by Waking Up Suddenly
Your body responds to the limited air supply by creating high pressure through the air tract, making you wake up and gasp for air. While the auto-response is important to keep you alive, it also causes numerous disruptions that are detrimental to your well-being.
Some patients also experience extreme outcomes, making them jerk and wake up in fright. In extreme cases, this may cause irregular heart rhythms or even heart attacks. Therefore, you want to begin treatment as soon as possible to avoid facing these outcomes.
Poor Concentration and Productivity
Sleep apnea can affect how you relate to others in your workplace or school and how you handle tasks. As already discussed, you are likely to experience fatigue and headaches during the day, meaning that your concentration is poor. Further, your productivity is limited by the discomfort and pain you feel. Consequently, achieving your goals may be quite difficult, and superiors who do not understand your condition may become less understanding.
Low productivity and concentration levels are also linked to depression. By this stage, you will begin losing interest in your favorite activities, making you more prone to harmful thoughts. Seeking early treatment is therefore vital for your well-being to prevent any unwanted consequences.
How Your Dentist Treats Sleep Apnea
When your dentist advises you to begin treatment, he/she will recommend using oral devices as the preferred treatment option. This method aims to support your airway muscles to prevent them from collapsing during sleep, leading to disrupted breathing.
The oral appliances applicable for this treatment are called mandibular advancement devices and are useful for various reasons. Firstly, your appliance will help control the collapse of the airway, meaning that you will experience fewer symptoms as treatment progresses.
Secondly, since you need to wear your oral device every day, your airway muscles will eventually adapt to their new positions. With consistent use of the mandibular advancement device, you can train these muscles to strengthen them and prevent collapse. This means that some patients can successfully correct their condition and live normal lives. However, achieving complete independence from your oral appliance will take significant time, so we recommend asking your dentist for guidance on when to stop wearing it.
Therefore, you want to be ready for the mode of treatment, as it involves wearing an oral device when you sleep. Further, wearing your appliance incorrectly may expose you to additional conditions associated with dental realignment. This may change your general physical appearance because your teeth will change their positions. To avoid a change in dental structure, your dentist will guide you through the correct steps in wearing your mandibular advancement device.
Keeping in touch with your dentist is also crucial because he/she needs to review the treatment progress. Usually, Mandibular advancement devices are designed to move your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open. Over time, the muscle memory should kick in and allow you to operate the device as discussed. However, the dentist can only establish the best time to live independent of the device by making routine observations.
Additionally, you may need to change your oral device after some time, especially if it becomes uncomfortable to wear. For these reasons, maintaining a relationship with your dentist will play a pivotal role in your chances of managing the condition.
What to Expect Before Treatment Begins
As a new patient awaiting treatment, you may be unaware of what to expect before having your mandibular advancement device fitted. Preparing yourself adequately can help you relax and understand the reason for various processes, giving you confidence in the dentist's directives. Thus, knowing what to expect before treatment is important.
Firstly, your dentist may ask about your family history during your initial consultation. He/she does this to determine whether your condition is hereditary or acquired. The information may help in creating an appropriate treatment plan because some acquired traits can be eradicated. For example, if your sleep apnea comes from weight gain, your dentist may refer you to a professional nutritionist and practitioner to help you attain a healthy weight. By reducing weight, your airway muscles are under less pressure and are less likely to collapse.
On the other hand, heredity traits are more difficult to correct because the patient lacks any triggers. Thus, the dentist will create an elaborate treatment plan that ensures you receive helpful directives. By learning about your medical and family history, you will provide accurate information for the dentist's reference.
Secondly, each person's dental arrangement varies, meaning that you need a mandibular advancement device specially fitted for you. Thus, you should be ready to have study models of your mouth taken. These models are a crucial part of designing your device because they resemble your mouth. The dentist can therefore create a design that is comfortable and effective for you.
During the appointment, we use a special mold meant to replicate your dental arrangement, including the spaces between each tooth and the floor of the mouth. Typically, the process is painless and lasts for about five minutes. Afterward, you will wait for a few days before your device is ready. When you return to the clinic to collect the device, your dentist will provide all the aftercare tips and guidelines on wearing it. This ensures you avoid dealing with mishaps in the future.
Advantages of Using Mandibular Advancement Devices for Treatment
While adjusting to mandibular advancement devices may take some time, the treatment option provides several benefits for patients. Thus, it remains a popular option for most people experiencing the condition because they can restfully sleep. The main advantage is that the devices are highly effective, meaning that you will prevent sleep apnea.
Although the effects may not be apparent at first, you will begin to notice positive changes in your sleeping patterns. This occurs because you are waking up less, and oxygen distribution occurs evenly in your body.
Secondly, you can enjoy a discreet treatment option, as you are only required to wear the device at night. Hence, you can continue with your daily activities at ease and perform your professional obligations without worrying about your condition.
Also, you have access to an affordable treatment option compared to the alternatives. For example, invasive surgery to correct your muscle placement may be quite expensive, especially if you do not have medical insurance cover. On the other hand, seeing your dentist for mandibular advancement device treatment is affordable and delivers results.
Overall, your productivity will also improve upon starting treatment, giving you general satisfaction and a sense of well-being. This can improve your mental health significantly and make you more motivated to achieve your goals.
Challenges Associated With Sleep Apnea Oral Treatment
While oral treatment provided by your dentist is an accessible and effective method of controlling the condition, several risks may arise. They often affect your dental structure from using the mouthpiece devices to keep your airways open. The risks include:
Creation of Overbites or Underbites
When a patient starts wearing mandibular advancement devices for sleep apnea treatment, his/her jaw placement may change. This often happens when the oral device works by pushing the upper jaw to the anterior or by placing the tongue directly behind the front teeth.
Consequently, the teeth placement may move outwards, giving the patient an overbite. Conversely, the reverse may occur where a patient develops an underbite based on the placement of the oral devices.
Excessive Drooling at Night
Further, you may notice an increased amount of drool at night because you have to sleep with the oral devices in your mouth. Drooling is most prevalent during the first few weeks of treatment because you are still adjusting to the device. While the effect may be undesirable, it often reduces as you become accustomed to your mouthpiece.
Nevertheless, we understand the inconveniences caused by excessive drooling, as you may have to change your beddings more often. To help control the situation, your dentist can recommend some exercises that will help keep the lips closed to prevent the excessive flow of saliva.
Painful Teeth and Jaws
A new routine is never easy to adjust to because it often involves additional practices that are unfamiliar to you. Similarly, your body may create resistance to new devices in your mouth because they may affect your normal functioning. Hence, when a dentist prescribes the mouthpiece device for treatment, you can expect to have painful teeth and jaws for some time.
The discomfort arises because the device occupies space in the mouth, changing the way you close your mouth and rest your jaws. This may cause strain on the teeth and jawbone until your body adapts to the new mouthpiece device. If you prefer having the adjusting period shortened, we recommend wearing your dental device at all recommended times. By following the directive, your mouth acquires muscle memory that is important in reducing discomfort.
Severely Dry Mouth
Patients who experience having a dry mouth often report that it occurs in the morning. Naturally, drooling and having your mouth partly open at night reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth, making it easier to dry out. The natural body response process replenishes a dry mouth with more saliva, which flows out when you drool. Consequently, a low supply will create a dry mouth that can be irritating.
On top of that, the dryness may extend to the throat, meaning that you are also likely to experience sore throats when you wake up. Despite this, you can manage the outcome by hydrating adequately and requesting your dentist for additional tips on reducing drooling. Over time, you will acclimatize to the mouth device and have an easier time controlling the symptoms.
Although these risks may affect your dental structure, working with your dentist over a general practitioner is advantageous. This is because your dentist can predict the implications of your mouthpiece devices to various teeth and jaw placements. In return, he/she can include separate treatment to maintain your teeth placement and prevent a drastic change in your dental appearance. Therefore, you do not have to worry about incurring extra costs to reverse the effects caused by the oral devices, as your dentist will apply his/her skills accordingly.
The Cost of Sleep Apnea Treatment
By choosing to have dental treatment for sleep apnea, you will manage the breathing problems and gradually resolve the condition. Thus, this option is beneficial for patients who cannot afford surgery or other complicated medical treatment procedures. Additionally, dental remedies are relatively affordable compared to alternative treatment options.
The cost of acquiring your dental mouthpieces ranges between $1800 to $2000. You should also note that this price includes all follow-up appointments with your dentist to have the mouthpieces adjusted and the dentist to observe the treatment progress.
While the cost is less expensive than surgery, we understand that you may require a payment plan for a more comfortable means of clearing the treatment fees. As a result, we are open to providing payment plans for our patient's needs, depending on your financial ability to complete outstanding balances on time.
Thanks to our front desk team, you can inquire about the available options and provide input on your preferred plan. In doing this, you will begin treatment as soon as possible without facing the financial pressure of paying the entire treatment amount upfront.
Additionally, most insurance medical cover providers cover sleep apnea treatment expenses based on patients’ risk. Hence, we recommend speaking to your insurance company to confirm whether the service caters to your treatment costs. Sometimes, the company may accept to cover half the expenses and leave the rest for out-of-pocket payment. Overall, you will therefore have various avenues to reduce the financial load of receiving treatment.
Contact a Los Angeles Dentist Near Me
When you are determined to manage sleep apnea, seeking treatment from a trusted dentist should be among your priorities. The medical attention you receive will help you alleviate improper breathing patterns that may ultimately reduce sleep quality and leave you with unwanted side effects. At Washington Dental, we offer the best dental care services to patients seeking treatment in Torrance, Lomita, and Carson, California.
With the help of your dental professional, you will learn how to wear your mouthpiece devices to reduce sleeping discomfort attributed to sleep apnea. What's more is that we are happy to provide additional support in the form of advice, emergency responses, and follow-up sessions to help you adjust to the new treatment method. Ultimately, you will begin to notice an improvement in your health and productivity from the reduced effects of sleep apnea. Call us today to start sleep apnea treatment.