What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is the involuntary, repetitive interruption of breathing during sleep. The most common form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition develops when the tissues of the throat, tongue, or soft palate relax and block your airways while you sleep. When these blockages occur, you may struggle to breathe or stop breathing entirely for up to a full minute. During these periods, you will shift into a lighter stage of sleep to regain your breath, significantly disrupting your sleep.
What are the Symptoms of OSA?
Patients with OSA will experience shallow or halted breathing throughout the night but are typically unaware of these effects. Other symptoms that may indicate that you are suffering from sleep apnea include:
- Restless sleep
- Waking gasping or choking
- Mood changes
- Acid reflux
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches in the morning
In addition to these apparent signs that affect your lifestyle, there are several oral symptoms you may take notice of including:
- Eroded enamel
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Sore throat when you wake
- Dry mouth
- Worn or chipped teeth
- Scalloped or large tongue
When these symptoms persist for long periods of time, they can a significantly interfere with various aspects of your life.
The Importance of Treatment
Interrupted sleep can lead to a host of serious, life-threatening health conditions. Sufferers of OSA face an increased risk of:
The combined effects of the symptoms and health risks can negatively impact your quality and length of life. If you believe you may have OSA, it is essential to bring it to the attention of your doctor so that you can receive the treatment you need.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
At Smile 360, we can provide oral appliance therapy to improve your breathing and ability to sleep. A custom oral appliance can open the airway by shifting the jaw forward. This shift can prevent the tissues from collapsing during sleep to reduce snoring and promote better breathing. Oral appliance therapy is often a popular treatment as it is non-invasive and is easy for patients to wear.
To determine if a custom oral sleep appliance can help alleviate your symptoms, Dr. Ip will examine your upper airway. To ensure the best fit, we will digitally scan your bite and send the images to a trusted lab for a custom made oral appliance. Typically, you will receive your appliance within three weeks. We can then make any adjustments to make it as comfortable as possible.
Dr. Ip has undergone professional training to offer patients oral appliance therapy using a personalized device which can reposition the jaw to open the airway.
Oral appliance therapy is a conservative approach that can potentially treat the symptoms of OSA. If it is not effective for your condition, you should bring it to our attention. You may need to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT, a sleep physician, or seek dual treatment with both professionals to undergo a sleep study. This evaluation allows for monitoring while you sleep to detect sleep apnea. Based on your results, Dr. Ip can coordinate care with your doctor to devise a more effective treatment plan.
Serving Your Best Interest
To provide for the needs of his patients, Dr. Ip has completed a mini-residency at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry. This training has allowed him to effectively conduct upper airway examinations, patient screening, and use oral appliance therapy to treat his patients with sleep apnea. Dr. Ip is committed to finding the best solution for his patients. If he cannot treat your sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy, he will work in collaboration with your sleep physician or ENT to ensure that you receive the best care possible. He can accomplish this goal for his patients through a three step plan that will entail scheduling your appointment and sleep study as well as developing a custom action plan. Contact our practice online or call (512) 444-4746 if you have been experiencing symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea.