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You’ve probably heard of sleep apnea and CPAP machines. The most common cause of sleep apnea is the throat closing when the patient falls asleep. Breathing stops or snoring begins when air isn’t getting in or out of the throat easily. Sleep apnea can also be caused by dental problems.

With sleep apnea, breathing is interrupted all night continuously. Breathing can stop for a few seconds or even a few minutes. It is airway obstruction and can also happen up to 30 times an hour (possibly more). REM sleep is constantly disturbed, preventing the full restful sleep needed for optimal functioning during the day.

Sleep apnea has many other symptoms besides snoring. Patients often wake up with dry mouths, headaches, and sore throats, as well as being excessively tired throughout the day.

Another symptom is bruxism. Bruxism is teeth grinding and can be the first sign of sleep apnea. Bruxism can also cause broken teeth, receding gums, and cavities. The muscles of the jaw working together make the strongest force in the entire body. The extreme force of grinding while sleeping can cause many problems including tightness, tired jaws and tooth pain or sensitivity.

While chronic snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, the patient isn’t usually aware of their snoring. Your parent or spouse would be the one to ask about this (the answer may be a surprise to you).

Oral appliance therapy is the treatment for sleep apnea caused by dental problems. A custom-fitted oral appliance is worn while sleeping. It looks and feels like an orthodontic retainer or a mouthguard, keeping the airway open, maintaining the jaw in a forward position, and preventing nighttime awakenings.

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, your first call should be to Great Neck Dental Associates in Great Neck, NY for a thorough examination. A professionally made appliance is not comparable to the over-the-counter ones in price, but it is also not comparable in results, either. The custom-made nightguards offered here are made specifically for the patient’s mouth and are generally more comfortable and more effective than the over-the-counter options.

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