Sleep Dentistry Phoenix | Dr. John Harman Dental Care

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Apnea simply means when you stop breathing. The human airway is surrounded by large muscles such as the larynx or tongue. While we are awake these muscles are tightened, removing any obstruction. However, when you sleep these muscles relax over time. Soon breathing causes the muscles to vibrate, which in turn causes snoring. Eventually the muscles relax enough to completely block the airway. This causes temporary suffocation and your brain interrupts deep sleep in order to gain more control over the muscles. Needless to say, this condition can be very annoying, but it also poses some serious health risks.

Risks of Sleep Apnea

It’s estimated that nearly 22 million Americans have sleep apnea. So, if you are suffering from a lack of sleep caused by breathing issues you are far from alone. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of the risks of sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can have a variety of side effects including:

  • Excessive loss of sleep
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Reflux

Oral Appliance Therapy

If you’re sick of the annoying and cumbersome CPAP machine like millions of other Americans, oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative treatment for snoring and OSA. An oral appliance is worn like a mouthguard or retainer. There are two categories of dental sleep appliances.

  • A mandibular advancement device supports your jaw by pushing it forward in order to open the upper airway. These are the most common oral appliances.
  • A tongue retaining mouthpiece fits around your tongue and holds it forward so it doesn’t collapse into your airway.

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy

Patients choose oral appliance therapy over methods like the CPAP machine because it has little effect on your current lifestyle. Some of the benefits of oral appliances include:

  • Improved comfort
  • No loud machinery
  • Easy to wear
  • Easy to maintain
  • Small and portable
  • No dry or itchy sinuses

If you decide that you would like to try oral appliance therapy as an alternative treatment option, we can provide you with a prescription and custom fitted mouthpiece. The FDA has approved more than 100 oral appliances, so you can find the option that works best for you.


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