When most people think about dentistry, they think of teeth — and, for the most part, they’re right. What many may not realize, though, is like that dentists like Dr. Mason Konkle, Dr. Jennifer Konkle, and Dr. Hyrum Hatch at Hatch Family Dentistry deal with more than just tooth problems. Their job is to look at the oral system as a whole. That means that we can help you find a solution to a problem you might not have known you have: sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a type of sleeping disorder in which the patient’s breathing patterns become irregular while sleeping. What does this mean? A patient’s breathing can become shallow or even stop entirely during the night, sometimes up to hundreds of times each night. As you can imagine, that potential lack of oxygen can be very dangerous, and presents health effects like the ones listed below.
Why does this happen? Sleep apnea is physically caused by the obstruction of a person’s airways while sleeping. Because this cause is so generic, anyone, young or old, male or female, can experience sleep apnea. There are some general trends, though:
Estimates differ, but the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine approximates that about 25 million people in the U.S. experience sleep apnea of some form.
In general, sleep apnea is bad for the body simply because it means that the oxygen flow into the body is irregular. Quite understandably, that’s problematic for almost every part of the body since your body depends on oxygen to continue running. More specifically, though, sleep apnea could increase the likelihood of a number of health issues, including:
So, how can a dentist solve sleep apnea? Rather than using invasive procedures like surgery or breathing devices, dentists like Drs. Konkle and Dr. Hatch deal with sleep apnea in a very simple way by opening up the patient’s airways. Because sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the air a person breathes in, changing how that person breathes just enough to keep the airways open can do wonders in preventing the effects of sleep apnea.
This is done through a very simple device: a retainer-like mouthguard that changes the positioning of a person’s jaw. By pushing the lower jaw slightly outward, the mouthguard can open up a patient’s airways, helping him or her breathe more easily while sleeping and preventing the symptoms and effects of sleep apnea from occurring.
If you think that you or someone you love is experiencing sleep apnea and if you want to try out a specially designed mouthguard, make an appointment to talk to one of our dentists at Hatch Family Dentistry in Tempe for more information.
Just call (480) 838-3073 or visit our website to set up an appointment today!