Conservative Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes your breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep. Most often characterized by loud snoring, sleep apnea can have serious consequences on your overall health. Dr. Kenneth Bagby and Dr. Erica R. Stokke genuinely care about our patients' quality of life and offer sleep apnea treatment at our Billings, MT, dental practice. We can provide customized oral appliances which keep your airway open for a better night’s sleep.
Understanding the Condition
There are two different types of sleep apnea: central, which affects the nervous system, and obstructive. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is much more common and generally occurs when the tongue and muscles in your throat relax, blocking your airway.
Our doctors genuinely care about patients' quality of life and offer comfortable oral appliances to help you get a better night’s sleep.
This blockage limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain and triggers an instinctive reaction to wake up and clear the obstruction. For patients with OSA, this process occurs between a few and even hundreds of times throughout the night.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
The most common signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring and a persistent feeling of tiredness, even after a full night’s sleep. However, there is a range of other symptoms, including:
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Waking up with headaches
- Lack of attention
If you wake up gasping for air or if your bed partner has noticed moments where you stop breathing during the night, you may have sleep apnea.
Dr. Bagby or Stokke can assess your symptoms and determine whether you need to see a sleep specialist. The specialist can then perform further evaluation during an overnight monitoring session. In some cases, you may be able to use a home sleep test.
Oral Appliance Therapy
At our practice, we offer oral appliances as a conservative, noninvasive treatment for sleep apnea. Most sleep apnea devices resemble a sports mouth guard. They work by holding the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue or throat muscles from blocking the airway.
Oral appliance therapy offers a range of advantages over other sleep apnea treatments. This method is:
- Easy to use
- Convenient for travel
Dr. Bagby and Stokke typically recommend custom oral appliances for mild to moderate sleep apnea. They are also effective for many patients who are not tolerant of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices, or simply want an alternative option.
In cases of severe sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend wearing a CPAP and oral appliance together to reduce the pressure of the machine and make treatment more comfortable.
The Importance of Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea causes chronic disruptions of your sleep cycle. The condition also dramatically reduces the amount of oxygen you receive while you are sleeping.
When left untreated, sleep apnea can cause serious health complications, including:
- Daytime fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Liver issues
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
The lack of sleep can also have a significant effect on your mood, causing feelings of depression or a short temper. Children and teens may also exhibit behavioral issues or a drop in academic performance.
Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Sleep is crucial to both physical health and emotional well-being. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea or are concerned about certain symptoms, reach out to us online or call (406) 252-1078 today. Our team can discuss your options with you and help you sleep more restfully throughout the night.