Sleep apnea is a prevalent condition, with over one million Americans living with it currently. Although most people living with the disease do not discover it until later, sleep apnea can have severe health effects on the patients it affects, often leading to other medical disorders after some time. The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring caused by a blockage in the airway, especially when you are asleep. Most patients learn of their conditions from their loved ones who bring up the factor of snoring loudly when asleep, prompting the affected person to seek medical attention.
Typically, a medical doctor who specializes in sleep apnea, among other conditions, is the first pick for most patients who suspect they have the disorder. However, your dentist can play a significant role in diagnosing the issue and guiding you through the process of medical check-up in partnership with a trusted medical doctor. After you receive a certified diagnosis, you can then weigh your options and choose the best treatment method. At the Northridge Dentist clinic, we are happy to provide several remedies to eradicate the symptoms of sleep apnea. Our treatment methods have helped our patients find a lasting solution for apnea, thanks to the dental sleep devices we incorporate in your treatment.
The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Most people associate the condition of sleep apnea with heavy breathing and loud snoring when the patient is asleep. While these two factors occur, the leading cause of the loud snoring is a blockage in the patient's airway to the trachea when the mandibular muscles collapse and close the path through which air reaches your lungs. As a result, a patient may fail to breathe for up to a minute without knowing it. The severity of the condition arises when the person stops breathing, mainly because it hinders neurons from transmitting messages to the brain for the body to continue functioning normally. When the breathing begins again, some neurological functions may lag, causing the patient to lack quality sleep.
Consequently, the lack of adequate sleep brings about several side effects to a patient. In most cases, the person living with sleep apnea may not relate the symptoms brought about by inadequate sleep to the condition of sleep apnea, especially when he/she does not have a proper diagnosis. Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea to look out for are:
Naturally, the lack of enough rest will make you cranky and highly irritable during the day. While different circumstances trigger some of these reactions, consider taking them seriously when you notice a recurrent trend. Additionally, you may pick out the mood swings when you are alone and still get annoyed quickly. If you happen to wake up feeling tired, you may be right in suspecting undetected sleep apnea.
Moreover, most patients living with sleep apnea often feel depressed, mainly because of their mental health interference. The constant change of moods and high irritability may also attract adverse neurological effects linked to a patient's depression. Experiencing such looming feelings should prompt you to check-in with a medical professional who will help you get to the root of the problem.
Often, patients exhibiting bipolar behavior may consider checking in with a psychologist to combat the problem. However, as you receive treatment for the condition, it is essential to engage your doctor in trends that you have noticed, especially concerning the deterioration of your moods throughout the day. Using such information, the doctor will authorize several tests to check the causes of such neurological patterns, including checking for sleep apnea.
All these symptoms arise because of the irregular sleep pattern and constant brain neurological transmissions caused by sleep apnea, when air fails to get to the lungs, thereby stopping you from breathing. If you suspect that such abrupt changes are linked to the condition, do not hesitate to consult a doctor for further analysis.
Patients Prone to Sleep Apnea
While sleep apnea may affect a significant number of patients, several traits or underlying medical conditions may increase the chances of the disease, posing a threat to your health. Since the situation arises from the constant collapsing of your mandibular muscles, the pre-existing conditions may do more harm than good for you, and therefore call for proper management to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. A patient will be prone to sleep apnea if he/she has:
Tonsils are small glands found close to the pharynx at the back of your throat. These tissues function to trap any disease-causing microbes that may enter your breathing system to prevent their entry to the lungs. Anyone who has not had them removed will have three functional tonsils at the pharynx area to serve that purpose.
While the glands occupy a reasonably small space, some patients have larger tonsils than others, causing a constant blockage of your upper jaw muscles when you lie in a particular position. Therefore, the large size pushes the tissues to collapse, causing you to stop breathing for some time before your body picks up on the problem. Consequently, having large tonsils may expose you to the effects of sleep apnea because of the ample space occupied by the tissues, which pushes your jaw muscles closed steadily.
The condition of acid reflux or GERD affects patients with a sensitive stomach lining by rejecting any highly acidic food. The mode of rejection the body engages in involves regurgitating the food out of the system, with similar contractions as those you experience as you throw up. In this case, if you live with the GERD condition, consuming food that continually prompts your body to regurgitate food out of your system may cause your upper jaw muscles to fall regularly, causing sleep apnea. Additionally, the forced movement of the throat caused by GERD also raises your lower jaw muscles, causing the airway's involuntary closure into your windpipe.
For a patient living with obesity, the pressure exerted on your windpipe, especially when you sleep in particular positions, will make your mandibular muscles collapse onto the lower jaw muscles and therefore lead to sleep apnea. While changing your sleeping position may serve as a remedy for a limited period, it is essential to consult a medical specialist. He/she will offer several other solutions like losing some weight to reduce the pressure on your throat and jaw muscles as you sleep.
A Large Tongue
Sometimes, your tongue's position may block your airway and halt the breathing process, even for a few seconds. While most of us do this consciously, some patients may experience such effects from having a larger tongue than most people. In such a situation, the patient will struggle to hold the tongue in a position that does not block his/her breathing, especially when the patient is asleep. Consequently, due to the tongue’s size, the patient will snore loudly from the air path’s blockage and may struggle to breathe at intervals through the night.
Available Remedies for Sleep Apnea
Ideally, treatment for sleep apnea may involve surgical reconstruction of your jaw muscles to eradicate the condition. Alternatively, a patient may choose the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device that channels adequate air pressure into your breathing system to hold the jaw muscles up, thereby preventing sleep apnea. While these options are recommended, they are quite expensive and, thus, inaccessible to most patients seeking remedies.
Due to the recurring need to serve patients who cannot afford medical surgery or CPAP devices, dentists offer an alternative treatment that is just as effective as a more cost-efficient solution. Once you receive your physician's diagnostic report, you can schedule a consultation with your dental clinic to help determine the mode of treatment your dentist will apply to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. The two main dental remedies are:
Mandibular Advancement Device
One of the most common dental treatment processes for sleep apnea includes the fitting of a mandibular device onto the patient's jaw to hold the jaw muscles in position when the person is asleep. On top of this, the method works to open up the air space more naturally by creating a wider gap between the upper and lower jaw. The mandibular device pushes your lower jaw into a forward position to open the entire airspace. Since the process is gradual, you will have to use the mandibular advancement device for a relatively long period to ensure you obtain the required results.
The Preparation Process of Getting a Mandibular Advancement Device
When your dentist settles on the use of a dental device to correct your sleep apnea condition, he/she will schedule several consultations before the device fits into your mouth. The preparation process involves several steps taken by your dentist to guide him/her on how to go about issuing particular treatment instructions.
One of the first issues to address during your consultation appointment with your dentist is your medical history. The records of any past conditions are beneficial to your dentist because it informs him/her of any unique disease that may be the direct cause of sleep apnea in your case. For example, suppose you suffer from tonsillitis that causes inflammation regularly. In that case, your dentist may use the information to refer you to an ENT specialist who will extract the tonsils as a remedy for your sleep apnea. Therefore, it is critical to inform your dentist of any pre-existing condition to ensure that issuing a dental device is the best treatment option for you.
Afterward, your dentist will take several mouth measurements in preparation for the development of a mandibular advancement device to fit your jaws perfectly. One of the procedures to expect is the insertion of unique dental mold into your upper and lower jaw, to replicate the exact shape of your mouth and mandibular structure. Once the mold takes the form of your mouth, the dentist lets it dry for a while and sets it apart as a replica of your entire mouth. The dentist needs to ensure that the mouth impressions match your oral structure accordingly, as it is pivotal in formulating a useful mandibular device.
Your dentist may also require you to take several X-ray images that will help him/her study your teeth placement and several joints that play a crucial role in your mandibular muscles' position. The main joint assessed is the temporomandibular structure that can easily change shape to fit the new placement of your mandibular advancement device.
It is important to note that the mandibular advancement device does not adequately serve every patient's needs, especially if his/her case of sleep apnea is advanced. The problem arises in this because a superior level of the condition often has several causative factors that have not been addressed. For example, if a patient has obesity, the mandibular device would be of little help without the patient's efforts to lose substantial weight for the pressure on the airway to reduce. Consequently, you need to go over your diagnostic report to check on the severity of your sleep apnea condition, because mandibular advancement devices are most effective for less advanced stages of sleep apnea.
The treatment process also involves the subjection of your jaw muscles to pressure to change their shape and position gradually. Therefore, you need to follow through with wearing your mandibular advancement device every time you sleep, to prevent the backtracking of any progress made by muscle memory induction. After wearing your mandibular device consistently, you will significantly reduce the effects of sleep apnea and have trained your jaw muscles to hold in place for more extended periods to prevent apnea episodes' recurrence.
Your dentist will also adjust your mandibular advancement device after some time to ensure that the progressive treatment further trains your jaw muscles properly to prevent them from collapsing and closing your airway. Subsequently, you will need to stay in touch with your dentist and come in for several adjustment appointments for your dental device, to keep on track with your treatment.
A Tongue Stabilizer
If your tongue’s size is the leading cause of sleep apnea, your dentist will consider providing a tongue retainer to help keep it in position when you sleep. Obtaining a retainer for your tongue is more straightforward, especially because the device mainly holds your tongue in place and does not interfere with other dental structures. However, your dentist will have to take several measurements of your dental structure and mouth shape to ensure he/she creates a retainer that fits your tongue perfectly.
Consequently, the dentist will make a mouth assessment and use a dental mold to capture your teeth placement and the shape of your maxillary and mandibular jaw. The measurements are beneficial in determining the exact arrangement that the tongue should be without interfering with your teeth. The tongue stabilizer device looks like a small pacifier because it rests on the patient's lips. The protruding shape creates an opening where you slip your tongue in to hold it in one position that enables your airway to stay open.
While the tongue stabilizer is an effective way to stop sleep apnea by keeping the airway open, any other pre-existing medical conditions like acid reflux may still cause several instances of apnea. To avoid such a possibility, we recommend seeking treatment for such situations to find ways to manage them, thereby preventing the likelihood of sleep apnea.
Generally, using a mandibular adjustment device or a tongue stabilizer device to reduce the occurrence of sleep apnea is a beneficial choice that helps you obtain professional non-invasive procedures that still deliver the desired results in curbing sleep apnea.
The Advantages of Dental Remedies for Sleep Apnea
Opting for dental services instead of the regular surgical or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine is a viable option because it guarantees a reduction of your sleep apnea occurrence. Apart from the primary benefit of seeking the remedy, several other advantages will enhance your treatment process and give you an easier time when undergoing the treatment. The benefits of mandibular advancement devices and tongue stabilizers treatment are:
You Receive Personalized and Discreet Treatment
Based on the numerous assessments of your dental arrangement and jaw placement that your dentist has to undertake, you are sure to receive a highly personalized mandibular adjustment device that should comfortably fit your mouth. Moreover, your dentist takes maximum caution and applies his/her skill in ensuring that the impressions replicated by the unique mold match the measurements on the final mandibular device.
Typically, the dental device resembles a mouthguard, and you can comfortably wear it and take it off. Thus, if you prefer that your treatment remains discreet, you will have an easy time wearing and removing your mandibular advancement device at your convenience. As a result, you will continue to comfortably wear the device for a long time without having to worry about your looks. Your dentist will also provide a storage box that allows you to put the dental piece away until it is time to wear it as you go to sleep after receiving your mandibular device. The small storage box is compact, allowing you to pack your advancement device or tongue stabilizer even when you travel.
The Treatment Methods are Affordable
Out of the available remedies to manage sleep apnea, choosing dental devices is the cheapest treatment method, unlike surgical procedures that require a lot of medical expenses to cover the entire process. Getting a tongue stabilizer device or a mandibular advancement mouthpiece saves a lot of money. The main costs to cover will include consultation fees and regular mouthpiece adjustment appointment fees that ultimately do not add up to the total cost of surgery.
Additionally, while the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine may be useful for some patients, its price range limits many people from considering it as a treatment option to combat sleep apnea. Overall, dental devices provide a lasting solution for the condition at an affordable price, while availing similar treatment methods as other available options that may lead to financial constraints in the end.
Dental Devices Reduce Symptoms of Sleep Apnea Significantly
An essential benefit of receiving treatment for sleep apnea is the management of other symptoms that arise as a result. For example, soon after beginning treatment, you may notice that your mood swings will reduce significantly, to the point where you can manage yourself easier than before. The improvement in your mental health is credited to the restoration of peaceful night sleep, whereby your airway remains open all night. Therefore, neurological transmissions in the brain remain uninterrupted, meaning that your body will receive adequate rest every night. After beginning your sleep apnea treatment by wearing a mandibular advancement device or a tongue stabilizer, we recommend keeping track of how you feel after you wake up. Consistent use of the devices will promote overall well-being by reducing stress, mood swings, and depression symptoms.
Moreover, we understand the difficulty of sharing a bed with someone who has complained of loud snoring before. Your mandibular advancement device comes in handy in reducing snoring symptoms because the airway will not come into contact with your jaw muscles. With the treatment, you can, therefore, enjoy sleep better with the assurance that you will not disrupt your loved ones. Also, we believe in the overall well being of our patients, which includes the restoration of your peace of mind. With reduced chances of snoring, you can worry less about any insecurities you had before.
While dental mouthpieces help manage sleep apnea adequately, you may experience some discomfort a few days after beginning treatment. For example, when wearing your mouthpiece at night, you will feel some pressure against your lower jaw as the mandibular device pushes it forward to keep the airway open.
Also, your mouthpiece requires constant replacement because of the plastic material used in its manufacturing. Thus, you may have to include replacement plans in your budget to ensure you purchase a new mouthpiece device when the old one becomes too worn out.
The Cost of Dental Mandibular Devices
On average, you will spend around $1,800 to $2,000 on a mandibular advancement device, depending on whether you will need additional treatment to supplement the mouthpiece treatment. It is important to note that this price range covers the cost for all necessary adjustments and future consultations as well. Therefore, you do not have to worry about making regular payments for each consultation visit. Also, we accept insurance payment methods to support your cash payments if your insurance company avails funds for such procedures. Feel free to let us know of any payment plans you would like to introduce, to ease the financial burden of covering the entire cost at once.
Contact a Northridge Dentist Near Me
At the Northridge Dentist clinic, we dedicate ourselves to providing you with the best medical solutions to manage sleep apnea. With our dedicated staff's help, you will begin a more natural management process that will help you get a good night's sleep and prevent you from suffering from adverse medical conditions caused by sleep apnea. To begin treatment with us, call us today at 818-875-0216.