Sleep is a necessary part of your daily life. Without sleep your body cannot repair or heal itself. Dental sleep medicine is an area of dentistry that focuses on the treatment of sleep related breathing disorders which can prevent you from sleeping soundly and can even be harmful to your health. Such sleep disorders include snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in the upper airway as you breathe. Snoring is common in men and occurs frequently in pregnant and menopausal women.

Obesity, nasal obstruction, alcohol and smoking are all causes of snoring. Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It is characterized by pauses in breathing and/or instances of shallow breaths when asleep. Sleep apnea can be serious if not timely treated.

Oral Appliance Therapy can be used to treat both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in adults. An oral appliance is a device similar to orthodontic retainers joined by a flexible connector and worn while asleep. The device allows your airway to remain open by supporting the lower jaw in a slightly forward position and providing forced air through flexible tubes. These devices are best designed and fitted by experienced dentists trained in sleep disorder therapy. In some severe cases, surgery may be an option for treatment.

If you feel you are experiencing the symptoms of a sleep related breathing disorder, it is best to see your doctor for a formal diagnosis and treatment.

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