Rest Easy with Sleep Apnea Treatment
Approximately 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that blocks the airway when you sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which results from the intermittent relaxation of the throat muscles. Left untreated, this condition can result not only in chronic fatigue and irritability but can increase your risk of physical health problems like high blood pressure and strokes. Fortunately, Dr. Gary Kinder offers sleep apnea treatment at our Knoxville, TN, practice to open up your airway and improve the quality of your sleep and daytime life.
Since opening his practice in 1990, Dr. Kinder has become a trusted dentist for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea. His dental practice has a reputation for improving the health and appearance of patients' smiles by combining technology, science, and artistry into a unique and beautiful smile for each individual.
What Types of Sleep Apnea Are There?
There are basically three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this breathing disorder. OSA is caused when a blockage (usually the tongue or soft palate tissue) interferes with breathing by narrowing or completely obstructing the airway. While a number of factors can increase your vulnerability to this form of the condition, obesity is a common and significant risk factor for OSA.
Patients with central sleep apnea experience blockage of the airway due to faulty brain signals. As the name implies, complex sleep apnea consists of some combination of OSA and central sleep apnea. However, both of these forms of sleep apnea are much less common.
All forms of sleep apnea interfere with the natural sleep cycle. Some individuals may rouse hundreds of times within the night. This results in poor sleep and daytime fatigue. In turn, this can make even routine activities dangerous, particularly driving.
One question our Knoxville office often fields is, “When should I see a doctor about my symptoms?” While snoring alone is not necessarily a sign of a serious health issue, you may want to consider scheduling a consultation with a dentist or sleep specialist if you:
- Snore loudly enough to disturb your partner at night
- Frequently wake up with a dry or sore throat
- Have headaches in the morning
- Suffer from restlessness or insomnia
- Often wake up gasping for air
- Become sleepy when driving
- Struggle to focus at work
- Are forgetful, irritable, or experience frequent mood changes
- Have high blood pressure
Oral appliance therapy is usually recommended to patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Severe or more complex issues may also require the use of a CPAP machine or even surgery. During a comprehensive evaluation at our Knoxville practice, Dr. Kinder can determine which method will be most beneficial for you. If necessary, he may recommend a sleep study to confirm the proper diagnosis.
Even if you do not notice specific symptoms, patients who have certain risk factors for OSA can also benefit from an examination at our Knoxville dental office. Leading risk factors for OSA and other forms of sleep apnea include:
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Tobacco use
- Family history of sleep apnea
If one or more of these risk factors apply to you, it may be worth your time to schedule a consultation.
Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is the most popular non-surgical treatment for sleep apnea. These specially-designed appliances are intended to shift the soft tissue blocking your airway out of the way so that you can breathe more easily. Sleep apnea treatment with oral appliances offers a wide range of benefits, including:
- Discretion: A custom oral appliance is discreet. In fact, when your mouth is closed, the device is not typically visible to a bed partner.
- Portability: Unlike a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, an oral appliance is incredibly portable and can fit in your pocket. Additionally, the appliance can function without electricity and does not require recharging.
- Fast Effects: Most patients notice a marked improvement on the first night of use.
- Similar Results as CPAP: For cases of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, an oral appliance can be just as effective as more bulky and expensive CPAP treatments.
Dr. Kinder customizes every mouthguard to each patient’s unique oral anatomy so that it fits as comfortably as possible. For over 35 years, he has been serving the needs of our patients by combining technology, science, and artistry.
What Is the Treatment Process Like?
If Dr. Kinder determines that you are eligible for oral appliance therapy, then we will first take impressions of your teeth. These are sent to our trusted dental lab, where a skilled technician fabricates your custom mouth guard. Once the appliance is shipped to back us, we will schedule you for a second appointment. During this visit, Dr. Kinder will assess the device and ensure it fits properly before you take it home.
A custom oral appliance is designed to fit snugly over the teeth and move the jaw slightly forward. This helps open the airway, increase oxygen flow, and reduce snoring. Most patients become accustomed to their device within a few nights, as these appliances are much less cumbersome than CPAP or other alternative treatments.
Potential Side Effects
While rare, some patients who use an oral appliance experience minor side effects. These may include dry mouth, tooth discomfort, temporary bite misalignment, or jaw pain. If you experience one or more of these side effects, please notify Dr. Kinder. However, these side effects often naturally subside with time.
Breathe Easier Today
Since 1990, Living Life Dentistry has been serving residents of Knoxville and surrounding communities. We believe that every individual should have access to the care they need. That is why we accept CareCredit® financing to help patients afford any out-of-pocket costs. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment, or to schedule an appointment, contact us online anytime or call us at (865) 539-6030.