The ideal approach to sleep apnea is prevention, but that's not always a viable option. Much like trying to avoid the common cold during flu season, even with diligent efforts, it can still catch up with you. In such cases, symptom management to minimize its impact is the next best option.
Unfortunately, sleep apnea lacks a definitive cure. Despite ongoing research trying to unravel the ins and outs of this disorder, the current medical and dental focus remains on treatment methods to decrease the potential long-term complications of sleep apnea. The good news is that there are more treatment methods available now than ever before.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep. The term "apnea" originates from the Greek word meaning "breathless." These interruptions occur due to either airway blockage (known as obstructive sleep apnea) or a disruption in the brain's control of breathing (referred to as central apnea).
As a response to the reduced oxygen levels, a protective mechanism kicks in, rousing you just enough to resume normal breathing. While this reflex is vital for survival, it disrupts the natural sleep cycle, leading to a lack of restorative rest. In turn, this can result in various consequences, including placing strain on the heart, which may have potentially life-threatening implications.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
While there is no cure for sleep apnea, finding the best treatment option for you can radically change your life and improve your health. It's essential to discuss which options are best for you with your healthcare and dental providers.
Many approaches exist to treating sleep apnea, depending on the specific type of sleep apnea you are experiencing and its severity. While none offer a cure, they can still help prevent apnea events or reduce their frequency and severity. Some treatments should be a part of your daily (or nightly) routine.
Possible treatments include the following:
- Conservative or non-medical treatment, such as weight loss and exercise
- Positive airway pressure (CPAP) and other adaptive ventilation devices
- Oral appliances or mouthpieces
- Nerve stimulators
- Medications—generally an option for central sleep apnea only
Sleep apnea can be treated orthodontically by oral appliances. These custom-made devices will adjust the lower jaw and tongue's position while you sleep to help maintain an open, unobstructed airway.
An Anterior Modeling Appliance (ARA) is another option that can permanently open the airway by expanding the jaw and addressing other orthodontic concerns. Another benefit of this appliance is that it can be used to help straighten teeth and improve facial aesthetics.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea? Contact TMJ Plus Wellness Center Today for Help
If you know or suspect you have sleep apnea, it's imperative to seek treatment right away. While there is currently no cure for this potentially dangerous condition, there are many successful treatment options. At TMJ Plus Wellness Center, we can discuss your various treatment options and help you choose one that works best for you.