Dental Services

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Dr. Cassidy offers dental treatments to assist patients suffering from mild sleep apnea. Dentists today can play an important role in the approach to the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Cassidy works with patients to recognize, manage, and treat snoring and sleep apnea though the use of contemporary dentistry methods, as well as provides information about oral appliance therapy.

Snoring is a common breathing disorder that occurs during sleep and is often considered to be simply a nuisance, however, it can be associated with more serious condition known as obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway, causing air flow to stop. It is characterized by repeated stoppages in breathing, each lasting seconds or longer. OSA has been associated with daytime sleepiness, hypertension, and cardiac arrhythmias.

What Causes Snoring?
Snoring occurs when the soft tissue structures of the upper airway collapse onto themselves and vibrate against each other as we attempt to move air through them. This produces the sound we know as snoring. Large tonsils, a long soft palate, a large tongue, the uvula, and excess fat deposits in the throat all contribute to airway narrowing and snoring. Usually, the more narrow the airway space, the louder or more habitual the snoring.

The presence or absence of obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), must be determined before initiating treatment with oral appliances to identify those patients at risk due to complications of sleep apnea and to provide a baseline to establish the effectiveness of subsequent treatment.

In recent years, dental appliances have been used to treat snoring or mild to moderate sleep apnea. Most of these appliances reposition the mandible forward and slightly open the vertical dimension to keep the airways space open during sleep. While several types of appliances appear to be effective, it is important to select one that is comfortable, promoting patient compliance and precisely fabricated so that pre-existing TMJ problems are not aggravated.

For any dental sleep apnea related questions or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 703.370.2333 or email us, and our staff will be happy to assist you.

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