Serving Choto, Northshore, and surrounding areas of Knoxville, TN
What do 90 million Americans have in common? They all snore. This behavior during sleep may seem innocent—unless someone is snoring loudly enough to disrupt your sleep—but snoring also is a major warning sign of a serious sleep breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. Let’s take a look at how Knoxville area dentists at Choto Family Dentistry can treat a case of sleep apnea and, with it, help you stop snoring.
Identifying a sleep breathing disorder is the first step
A sleep apnea dentist can use one of two methods to detect if a sleep breathing disorder exists. The first is having the patient undergo a sleep study. This involves wearing monitoring equipment when you sleep, which monitors vital signs and oxygen levels in the blood—among other factors. A sleep apnea dentist also could conduct an airway evaluation. This will determine if there is some sort of obstacle or obstruction in the airway that is impeding breathing during sleep. Such obstructions are what cause sleep apnea attacks. When you try to force air past this obstruction, it causes a vibration in the throat, which is what happens when you snore.
Sleep apnea treatment has evolved significantly throughout the years
Up until the 1980s, a surgery known as a tracheostomy was considered the only way to treat sleep apnea. This is a major operation that involved making a permanent opening in the neck. Not only was this hole visible, but also it changed the voice of the patient, making it difficult to speak.
Thankfully, methods to treat sleep apnea have come a long way in the last 40 years. CPAP remains the most popular current means of treatment. Standing for continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP technology entails sleeping with a mask over your nose that is connected to a machine that blows a steady current of air to help the airway remain open. Although CPAP is the most common method of treatment for sleep apnea today, these machines only work when patients comply with their use. Many people actually give up on using their CPAP, finding the machines to be uncomfortable, cause skin irritations, hinder intimacy, and prove inconvenient when traveling.
Oral appliance therapy is another option—and usually better tolerated by patients than CPAP
When worn during sleep, a custom-made oral appliance re-positions the mandible, helping to keep your airway open and clear from obstructions while you sleep. Unlike a store-bought mouthpiece, each oral appliance used at Choto Family Dentistry is custom-made from impressions of your teeth and mouth. This customization ensures that each oral appliance will be as snug, effective, and comfortable as possible. It is small enough to fit into a pocket, making travel a breeze. Plus, it won’t disrupt your partner’s sleep like noisy CPAPs are known to do!
Sleep apnea treatment in Knoxville
Choto Family Dentistry prefers to use oral appliance therapy to treat cases of sleep apnea. Your dentist also can adjust these appliances, in the event that your sleep apnea needs change over time. To learn more about how we diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea, please contact our office at (865) 269-6688 to schedule a consultation.
Choto Family Dentistry serves the oral health needs of patients in Knoxville, Tennessee, including the communities of Choto and Northshore.