Sleep apnea, a condition in which patients quit breathing for very short periods during sleep, can occur in varying degrees. Mild sleep apnea may have less of an effect on your quality of life, but you still should consider having this condition treated to get more restful sleep, which has a wide range of health benefits.
The most effective sleep apnea treatment is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, but many patients find the mask too cumbersome to tolerate so they don’t use it and continue to suffer the effects of sleep apnea. Fortunately, milder cases of sleep apnea often respond to more conservative treatments. For example, in obese people, weight loss can lead to a reduction in sleep apnea symptoms.
Oral appliance therapy, in which the patient wears a specially designed device to keep the tongue or jaw forward, can prevent the apneic episodes by reducing the risk that the soft tissues at the back of the throat will collapse and obstruct the airway opening. You can consult with your dentist about oral appliance therapy, which is one non-invasive approach to sleep apnea treatment.
When providing oral appliance therapy, the dentist can offer you a custom-designed device for maximum comfort, which improves compliance to the treatment. Additionally, people who feel “suffocated” by a CPAP mask are unlikely to have the same response to oral appliance therapy.
If you are considering whether to pursue treatment for mild sleep apnea, it’s important to remember that this condition has been linked with systemic issues like heart disease and stroke. Therefore, treatment for any degree of sleep apnea may help to reduce your risk of these issues.
Treatment for mild sleep apnea can still significantly improve your quality of life and your health, even if your symptoms aren’t terribly severe. Call our office to schedule an appointment to learn more about treatment options that won’t interfere with your sleep or your lifestyle.