What Is Sleep Apnea and How Do We Treat It?

What Is Sleep Apnea and How Do We Treat It?

Team Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing is interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea is estimated to impact millions of Americans. The CDC warns that sleep apnea increases your risk of potentially life-threatening chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Dentists treat obstructive sleep apnea. Physicians treat central sleep apnea. Here’s everything you need to know about treatments for sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is Treated by Dentists

It is important to distinguish between the two types of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to properly send signals to your body to breathe. This type of sleep apnea often requires a person to wear a special mask, attached to a machine such as a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) machine. A physician will be your primary treating provider.

 Obstructive sleep apnea, on the other hand, is the more common form of sleep apnea and a dentist is typically your primary treating provider. Obstructive sleep apnea results from a restricted airway. An underdeveloped jaw or dental arch is often to blame for a narrow airway. 

Other patients experience a narrowing of their airways while sleeping due to relaxing soft tissues in the back of the throat. Fortunately, unlike bulky, noisy, and often difficult-to-clean breathing assistance devices for central sleep apnea, dentists treat obstructive sleep apnea with custom oral appliances and devices.  

Oral Appliances and Devices for Sleep Apnea

Advanced treatments available to correct a narrow airway include the ProSomnus oral appliance and the Vivos oral device. Both treatments ensure that you can breathe normally and easily while you sleep.

ProSomnus Oral Appliance

The ProSomnus oral appliance is a highly specialized night guard that fits over the top and bottom arches of your teeth. It works by gently positioning your lower jaw so that it is slightly forward while you sleep. This prevents narrowing in the back of the throat. 

The ProSomnus oral appliance is worn only at night but should be worn every night. Before putting your device in each night, rinse it with lukewarm water. In the morning, clean your appliance with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and a mild detergent such as antibacterial liquid dish soap and lukewarm water. During the day, keep your appliance stored in the ventilated case provided to ensure it dries thoroughly. 

Vivos Device

The Vivos device is a unique treatment for sleep apnea, in that it is the only oral device that corrects the root cause of an underdeveloped arch or jaw. The Vivos device looks like an orthodontic retainer but works much like a palate expander that children may need to enlarge the upper jaw. Your device may also push your lower jaw forward over time, creating a larger space in the back of the throat for unrestricted breathing. As an added benefit, if you suffer from a receding chin or lower jaw, you will find that after treatment your lower jaw is more defined.

Your Vivos device will gradually expand the size of your soft palate (roof of your mouth). This helps to widen your airway.  

However, it also ensures that your teeth stay in alignment, using a wire across the front of the teeth, much like an orthodontic retainer.  Treatment with the Vivos device typically takes approximately 1-2 years to complete. 

It’s worth noting that both the Vivos device and the ProSomnus device also minimize snoring.

Which Sleep Apnea Treatment is Right for Me?

If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, talk with your dentist about all available options for treating the condition. If the anatomical structure of your jaw is normal, you will likely be fitted for a custom night guard such as the ProSomnus oral appliance. If airway restriction is due to an underdevelopment of the anatomical structure of the soft tissues in the throat, the Vivos device may be a better option.

Schedule a Consultation for Sleep Apnea Treatment 

Sleep apnea can be a life-threatening condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the experienced sleep dentists at Sunshine Dentistry can help. Send us a note to request your appointment today, or call 609-465-5415