We often joke about our friend’s and loved one’s nightly snoring, but frequent, excessive snoring can actually stem from a dangerous condition called sleep apnea. Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea every night, and a shocking 3 million people each year are diagnosed with this condition. While snoring might be seen as a simple annoyance, sleep apnea can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea involves the frequent collapsing of the back of a person’s throat, causing snoring and inconsistent, disrupted breathing during the night. The snoring not only interferes with normal breathing during sleep, but also leads to less oxygen being delivered to the brain and vital organs.
Even mild cases can have a number of negative consequences. Due to the brain being deprived of oxygen, those with sleep apnea often wake up during the night, sometimes hundreds of times. These short interruptions in sleep might only last seconds, but they disrupt the sleep cycle, causing fatigue, grogginess, and even depression.
Sleep apnea can also cause dry mouth, as snorers tend to sleep with their mouths open. When the mouth can’t maintain a healthy amount of saliva, it also can’t fight off dangerous bacteria, which might lead to infections of the teeth and gums.
Moreover, blocked airways and poor breathing can cause nightly teeth grinding, as the body attempts to keep its airways open. Those who grind their teeth at night often don’t know that they do it, only finding out when a dentist notices the signs of nightly grinding. Chipped, cracked, and eroded teeth can result from teeth grinding, giving dangerous bacteria more places to grow.
Your Dentist’s Sleep Apnea Solution
When we think of sleep apnea devices, many might picture face masks, tubes and loud air pressurizers. However, by getting the exact measurements of your mouth and teeth, dentists are able to provide silent, comfortable devices that increase the air flow one receives while sleeping.
These mouth pieces, which fit around the teeth, work either by keeping the tongue from blocking the airway or by changing the position of the jaw. For example, My Family Dentistry offers the Dental Crafters’ Intraoral Snoring Therapy (IST) Appliance: a custom-fitted, acrylic mouthpiece that pushes the jaw forward and keeps the airways open. Similar appliances are sold over-the-counter, but these one-size-fits-all devices can cause a great deal of discomfort with less consistent results.
After a quick, simple fitting, these custom mouth pieces prevent snoring, teeth grinding, and sleepless nights. If you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, consider a consultation with My Family Dentistry. Dr. Wes has been providing IST Appliances to Knoxville residents for years and can help you sleep better and stay healthier.
Contact us if you have any questions about sleep apnea or the IST Appliances we offer, or if you would like to set-up a consultation!