Your airway health is more important than you might think – especially when one is sleeping. Obstructed airways contribute to snoring and can cause sleep apnea. Sleep is necessary for our bodies to function. When we sleep, our bodies are hard at work rejuvenating. Unfortunately, sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) rob people of the sleep they need and deserve. Research has been devoted to studying the effects of untreated OSA. The findings of research on OSA point to links between this condition and cardiovascular disease as well as many other serious medical conditions.  A scary statistic is that people with untreated severe sleep apnea have a 15 year survival rate of only 60%! Treating sleep apnea does not have to be invasive or uncomfortable. Our practice offers oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea treatment.

Sleep Apnea, An Overview

Man Sleep ApneaObstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition that prevents proper breathing during sleep. People with OSA experience episodes of breathing cessation (apnea) followed by short periods of slight wakefulness. Breathing cessation is caused by airway obstruction. When the brain realizes that apnea has occurred, it will send signals to rouse a sleeper slightly so that normal breathing is resumed. The wakefulness aspect of apnea episodes is not full wakefulness; it is just enough to reinitiate the breathing cycle.  The harmful effect of sleep apnea come from oxygen deprivation that occurs.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

People with untreated OSA are sleep deprived, they will experience classic symptoms of sleep deprivation such as memory loss, malaise, issues with motor coordination, and problems with mood like depression and irritability.  Excessive daytime sleepiness is a primary symptom.

On top of the symptoms of sleep deprivation, OSA sufferers tend to have headaches, especially in the morning, along with dry mouth, acid reflux, bruxism, and fatigue.

Common Treatment Options

CPAP WomanIf you believe if you might have OSA, it is imperative to have a sleep study. Sleep studies involve evaluating a person’s brain waves and vitals with sensors connected to diagnostic medical equipment. This type of study will confirm whether a person experiences sleep apnea. Sleep testing can be much easier.  Many patients can use a home sleep testing device instead of an overnight study in a  sleep lab.  Once a diagnosis is confirmed, a patient could seek treatment from a dentist or oral surgeon.

In the recent past, the most widely used treatment protocol was CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure”. This treatment method prevents episodes of apnea by having CPAP machinery emit a constant stream of air to keep the airways open.

While CPAP was the go-to treatment method for the past decade or so, there is an alternative that does not require loud or bulky machinery.

Oral appliance therapy is a comfortable and quiet alternative to CPAP treatment. If a patient chooses oral appliance therapy, he or she will receive a custom-made appliance that looks similar to a mouthguard. This appliance positions the lower mandible (jaw) slightly forward to widen one’s airway. Oral appliance therapy is portable and convenient – so traveling and overnight trips aren’t affected by transporting bulky machinery.

While oral appliance therapy is very effective, it might not work for all OSA patients. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea or have been diagnosed with this sleep disorder, consider consulting with Dr. Link on your treatment options.

Call us today to set up an appointment.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea FAQs

How can you stop sleep apnea?

Most of the time, the only way to stop sleep apnea is to seek professional treatment. While some people can improve their symptoms with lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking, treatment is necessary for many to achieve the rest their bodies need. Professional treatments for sleep apnea include oral appliance therapy, CPAP therapy, and oral surgery.

What are the causes of sleep apnea?

There might be a few reasons why a person has sleep apnea. A common culprit is excessive and bulky throat tissue. Other culprits include congenital and developmental abnormalities in the airways. Whatever the case may be, the objective of treatment is to prevent episodes of apnea by keeping a clear airway. This can be achieved with respiratory machinery like CPAP, which emits a steady stream of air into the oral cavity to prevent soft tissue from blocking the airway or with oral appliance therapy, which involves wearing a custom, mouthguard-like appliance that repositions the lower jaw forward during sleep. Positioning the lower jaw forward will widen the airway so that breathing is not obstructed. If these two treatment methods do not produce effective results, patients might need to see an oral surgeon for corrective treatment to improve airway health.

Is an oral appliance an effective sleep apnea treatment option?

Oral appliance therapy is an effective sleep apnea treatment option for many people. This type of treatment involves patients wearing a custom made appliance that resembles a mouthguard. This appliance is soft and comfortable. It gently positions the lower jaw forward to widen a person’s airway so that it is not blocked by soft oral tissue.

Patients who have used oral appliance therapy do enjoy the fact that there is effective treatment that is also comfortable and portable. Unlike CPAP machines, oral appliances do not require electricity or bulky machinery. Oral appliances are small and easy to clean, too – making them a convenient treatment option.

Is sleep apnea dangerous to someone's health?

Sleep apnea can affect your oral health in many ways. One of the most noticeable effects of untreated sleep apnea are symptoms of sleep deprivation such as memory loss, difficulty with coordination, and irritability. A lot of research has been devoted to studying the long and short-term effects of sleep apnea – especially the effect this condition has on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Some of this research suggests that erratic breathing and fluctuating heart rates strain the heart’s ability to pump blood as well as the development of low oxygen levels.  Patients with sleep apnea are at a much higher risk for hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and vehicle or work accidents if untreated.

Interested in scheduling a dental appointment?

We see all patients on an appointment basis and ask that you contact us in advance so that we may reserve a time tor you. We value your time! We do our best to stay on schedule and will advise you if we are behind.

Featured Dental Services in Morganton, North Carolina

Sleep Well Western North Carolina

Sleep Well Western North Carolina is part of Dr. Link’s practice that involves screening, treatment and monitoring of sleep related breathing disorders.

Working closely with your physician and sleep study results we can fabricate a custom appliance that will help move your lower jaw forward which can reposition the tongue and result in a more open airway.

General Dentistry

As dedicated dental professionals, the health and well-being of our patients is a top priority. We provide general dentistry services such as cleanings and checkups, preventive care, and treatment for dental emergencies.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Our team understands that living with a flawed smile is difficult. Fortunately, our practice offers beautiful and effective cosmetic treatments such as professional teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.

Restorative Dentistry

A restoration provides protection from cavity-causing bacteria, debris, and harmful compounds like acids. Common restorations include fillings, dental crowns, inlays, and onlays.

Sedation Dentistry

Our team understands that negative associations with dental treatment, dental phobia, and low pain thresholds greatly impact the experiences of patients in oral healthcare settings. Sedation dentistry is beneficial for fearful patients or those receiving more invasive treatments.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Obstructed airways contribute to snoring and can cause sleep apnea. Treating sleep apnea does not have to be invasive or uncomfortable. Our practice offers oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea treatment.


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