Henderson area dentist answers, what is obstructive sleep apnea?
Dr. Christopher Port and the team of the Asheville Smile Center near Hendersonville provide a wide range of dental and oral health solutions for patients. While many patients think of a dentist as helping with the cleaning and care of the smile, there are other conditions that our team can assist with. This includes obstructive sleep apnea.
Patients often ask, what is obstructive sleep apnea? Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that can affect one’s quality of life dramatically. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea often have it go unaddressed because they are unaware of what is causing them to feel so tired and fatigued.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the airways when patients sleep. This blockage can be one of many things, including the tongue, misaligned jaw, and fat on the neck that may push down and close the throat while sleeping on the back. Whatever the cause, it results in patients being unable to breathe and therefore, gasp for air and awaken hundreds of times a night. This, in turn, results in the inability to reach the deep, restorative sleep needed to feel well-rested each and every night.
Dr. Christopher Port of the Asheville Smile Center sees many patients in the community who have received a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea through their physician and have received a treatment suggestion such as CPAP machines. CPAP machines are worn at night to help keep the airways open, but they are uncomfortable to wear and difficult to travel with. This results in noncompliance for many patients, causing them to experience the consequences of untreated sleep apnea. Instead, Dr. Christopher Port may suggest another type of treatment known as oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy can help with obstructive sleep apnea by keeping the airways open. This plastic mouth guard is custom-made for patients to wear at night to hold down the tongue, realign the jaw, and help protect the teeth and restorations from harm due to other accompanying conditions such as TMJ/TMD or bruxism (the clenching and grinding of the teeth). Patients are often much more compliant with oral appliance therapy than the use of a CPAP machine making it a desirable solution for patients unhappy with the alternative treatment option recommended by their physician.