Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to briefly stop breathing while he or she is sleeping. This can happen many times during the night. Sleep apnea can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Sleep apnea is caused by airway obstruction while asleep. This is often because the tongue and throat muscles become so relaxed that they block the airflow.
Structural issues within the mouth may also cause sleep apnea, for example, a large tongue. Sleep apnea happens most often in overweight or obese people, although it can occur in people of any size.
The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. However, not every person who snores suffers from sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea causes disruption in sleep, many sleep apnea sufferers are drowsy during the day and may have headaches in the morning.
One of the most effective ways to deal with sleep apnea is the use of oral appliances from Smiles By Design. Oral appliances are custom made devices that a person wears while sleeping. Oral appliances hold the mouth in the proper position, which prevents the airflow interruption associated with sleep apnea. Oral appliances work best in back sleepers.
There are several types of oral appliances available, and Dr. Garcia will help each patient choose the best one for their particular situation. The most common type of oral appliance, the mandibular advancement device, moves the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open while asleep. The tongue retaining device holds the tongue thrust slightly forward but doesn't move the jaw. Some patients do best with combination therapy, which involves the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and a custom oral appliance. By keeping the mouth positioned properly at the same time the CPAP is used, the patient shouldn't suffer from breathing problems during the night.
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