If you or your partner snore throughout the night, the last person you would expect to call to stop the problem would be your dentist. Although this might be surprising, your dentist should be your go-to person for treating your sleep apnea. You should know that your dentist in Walnut Creek cannot diagnose you for sleep apnea. We can only treat you. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, or you have been diagnosed and you’re looking for the right treatment for you, learn more about how your dentist can treat your sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is the common condition that causes people to stop breathing throughout the night. There are two different forms of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send messages to the lungs to continue breathing at night. Although there is no obstruction in the airway, the body acts as if there is. With obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, the airways soft tissue collapses, causing oxygen to not reach the lungs. Both types of sleep apnea are very disruptive to the body’s sleep patterns, causing lots of different health effects.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect My Health?

If you have sleep apnea, you will often wake up feeling tired and lethargic as you didn’t sleep at all. This is because the sleep apnea interrupts your sleep cycle all night, not allowing you to rest properly. This can lead to feeling tired and irritable throughout the day. You might even fall asleep behind the wheel or at the job. Over time, this interrupted sleep can lead to high blood pressure, mood disorders, and even increase your risk for diabetes, stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Oftentimes, the cause of sleep apnea can be traced back to diet, exercise, weight or other unhealthy habits.

Natural Ways to Treat Sleep Apnea

It’s common for OSA to be caused by being overweight, not exercising, or even from drinking or taking medicines that interrupt the sleep cycle. If you’re interested in going the natural route for treatment, we recommend starting with eating healthy and exercising regularly. This will help you lose weight if you’re overweight as well as help your body sleep better. Exercise is proven to help people sleep better throughout the night. Next, we recommend that patients refrain from drinking alcohol or taking any drugs like sedatives, sleeping pills or tranquilizers. These medicines can affect your sleep and actually cause sleep apnea. After losing weight and implementing a healthier lifestyle, patients might be able to treat their sleep apnea without wearing an appliance at night.

What Role Does My Dentist Play in Sleep Apnea Treatment?

Before our dentist can treat you, you must get an official diagnosis for sleep apnea from your physician. Your physician will have you take an at-home sleep test or require you to sleep at a sleep clinic for your sleep to be evaluated. Based on your test results, your doctor will be able to diagnose you. Some patients might require surgery to treat their sleep apnea, but in most cases, your doctor will advise that you visit your dentist to receive an oral appliance or CPAP machine to wear while you sleep.

When you visit Dr. Pope in Walnut Creek for your sleep apnea treatment, Dr. Pope will determine what the best form of treatment is for your personal obstructive sleep apnea condition.

What Are My Sleep Apnea Treatment Options from Dr. Pope?

At Pope Dental in Walnut Creek, we offer three different options for sleep apnea treatment. The first and most common treatment option is Oral Appliance Therapy. This is an appliance that you wear throughout the night that positions your mouth by stabilizing your tongue and lower jaw to hold your airway open. This will allow you to breathe throughout the night without snoring or stopping your breathing. The oral appliances are custom made to fit your mouth comfortably. It fits much like a retainer or mouth guard feels so you don’t have to worry about it feeling awkward while you sleep.

We also offer CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) as a treatment option for sleep apnea. This is a mask device that you wear while you sleep that uses pressurized air as a way to keep your airway open. Many patients find this treatment option hard to sleep with. We only recommend this treatment for the patients who have severe sleep apnea and the other options do not work.

The last treatment option we offer is upper airway surgery. This can be a minor or more invasive surgery depending on the patient’s personal needs. Out dentist will discuss which options are best for you and your lifestyle during your consultation.

What Are the Benefits of Treating Sleep Apnea?

When it comes to treating sleep apnea, there are so many benefits. The first and most important benefit is that your health will improve. First, you will wake up feeling rested and no longer fall asleep throughout the day. This can lead to improved mood and have more energy to exercise or do other things you were putting off because you felt so tired. In addition to having more energy, your risk for developing diabetes will go down. Your blood pressure might also go back to a healthy level. More importantly, your risk for having a heart attack, stroke or developing heart disease goes down. Lastly, your partner will be happy to sleep next to someone who doesn’t snore. What are you waiting for?

How Can I Get Sleep Apnea Treatment From My Dentist?

If you’re ready to stop snoring, it’s time to consider sleep apnea treatment in Walnut Creek. Our dentist is happy to help you find the right treatment option for your sleep apnea. Contact Pope Dental in Walnut Creek to set up a consultation today. If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea yet, please consult with your physician first.