Snoring and sleep apnea: Solutions through dentistry

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. Sleep apnea is often accompanied by loud snoring that can interrupt a spouse’s or partner’s slumber in addition to robbing the person who has the condition of deep, restful sleep.

Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the mouth obstruct the airway during sleep. The soft tissues become even looser when a person is asleep, and as a result, they can collapse and cover the airway opening.

Dentists may not be the first health care professionals who come to mind for patients in need of sleep apnea treatment, but dentistry in Charlottesville can provide patients with effective solutions to the problem.

Because the mouth’s structures are the culprit, dentistry approaches can correct the positioning of those structures, giving sleep apnea patients some relief. Dentists can fit their patients for custom-designed oral appliances that position their tongues in a manner that does not interfere with the airway.

For patients with sleep apnea that does not respond to more conservative approaches, oral surgery may offer a permanent fix. Surgical interventions may remove excess tissue from the back of the throat or reconfigure facial bone structures that contribute to the problem.

Obese people are at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea because they have lower muscle tone and more tissue around the airway. People with enlarged tonsils or large tongues also are more likely to experience airway obstructions during sleep. Sleep apnea can have serious consequences, such as heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure or diabetes, so it’s important for patients who have the condition to seek treatment.

If you think that you may have sleep apnea and notice symptoms such as daytime drowsiness, morning headaches or sore throats or moodiness, you should undergo a sleep study to confirm your suspicions. After you have received your diagnosis, consult with Dr. Carlos Rafael Ibañez to plan an effective treatment approach that will leave you feeling more refreshed in the mornings.

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