A young girl trying to wear a mouth guard

Do you wake up tired after a full night’s rest? Do you snore loudly at night? If you experience these problems and feel extreme fatigue the morning after, you might be suffering from sleep apnea. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of sleep apnea dental appliances and other forms of treatment. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

person with sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a medical disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you sleep. This can happen hundreds of times throughout the night. There are three types of sleep apnea, with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) being the most common form of this disorder. OSA is when the upper airways get partially or completely blocked during sleep.

Why does this happen? During sleep, the muscles in the back of your throat relax. In some people, these relaxed muscles can collapse and block the airways. When you stop breathing, your brain senses danger and partially wakes you to reopen the airways. These recurrent apnea episodes interfere with deep sleep, leading to chronic fatigue and a host of health problems. 

The Effects of Sleep Apnea On Your Body

Before diving into how sleep apnea dental appliances work, you must understand the importance of seeking treatment. Sleep quality is as, if not more important than diet and exercise for your overall well-being. Quality sleep allows you to recover from the day’s stress, recharges your body and mind, and repairs damage to help you maintain optimal health.

Why should you see a sleep apnea specialist? Because if left untreated, sleep apnea can kill you. Studies have shown that sleep apnea can cause hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. In addition to health problems, sleep apnea impairs cognitive function. This increases the risk of work-related accidents and motor vehicles crashes.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

A male doctor consulting with a patient

As you’ve learned, sleep apnea has devastating effects on your health. From nasal and throat surgery to sleep apnea dental appliances ⏤ the good news is that there are plenty of therapies and procedures to help you control its symptoms. If you have symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, your doctor will perform a series of tests to evaluate the severity of your condition. 

For mild cases of sleep apnea, simple lifestyle modifications such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, or sleeping on your side may suffice for keeping the disorder away. If your condition is more advanced, you will need higher-level treatments. Below are the most common treatments sleep apnea specialists recommend for moderate to severe forms of the disorder:

CPAP Machines

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are the most widely used treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. Using a tube and a face mask which you will wear while you sleep, the device gently forces pressurized air through your nose and mouth. The increased air pressure prevents your throat muscles from collapsing during sleep, keeping your airway open. 

Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances

While CPAPs are the standard treatment for sleep apnea, oral appliances are becoming increasingly popular. Also known as mandibular advancement devices (MADs), sleep apnea oral appliances are custom-made mouthguards that look like orthodontic retainers. When worn at night, the mouthpieces reposition your jaws to keep the throat open while you sleep.

Surgical Procedures

If all other treatments have failed to improve your condition, your sleep apnea specialist may recommend that you get surgery. Surgical procedures are very effective for people who have excessive or malformed tissues such as enlarged tonsils, a deviated nasal septum, or a small lower jaw with an overbite that doesn’t respond to sleep apnea dental appliances.

How Do Oral Appliances Work?

A young girl trying to wear a mouth guard

We talked briefly about what sleep apnea oral appliances are. Let’s now delve into how they work. MADs are two-piece devices that snap over your upper and lower arches. Once in place, these adjustable devices work to gently push your lower jaw and tongue forward. This helps prevent the tissues in your throat from collapsing and blocking your airway during sleep.

Do these appliances actually work? Many studies have found oral appliance therapy to improve OSA in a majority of patients, including some with severe forms of the disorder. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM), two-thirds of patients experienced therapeutic benefits from wearing sleep apnea dental appliances

Benefits of Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances

Although the most recommended treatment for sleep apnea, many patients can’t tolerate CPAP machines due to their inconvenience. More than 50% of patients drop out of CPAP therapy within the first year of treatment. Compared to CPAP devices, oral appliances are more comfortable to wear, resulting in a higher compliance rate and better treatment outcomes.

When used consistently and under the guidance of your sleep apnea specialist, dental devices can considerably improve your sleep quality. You can start to feel a difference in your symptoms after the first night of use. Convenient and non-invasive, sleep apnea dental appliances provide many advantages over traditional OSA treatments. Some of these benefits include:

  • Portable and easy to travel with
  • Works without electricity
  • Does not make any noise
  • Easy to clean and care for
  • More cost-effective than other treatments

Getting an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea 

The first step to getting an oral appliance for sleep apnea is to consult with your doctor. If your sleep apnea specialist determines that a dental device would work for you, they will refer you to a dentist who specializes in making these appliances. During your first visit with the dentist, they will examine your dental health to decide if you’re a good candidate for mouth guards.

If you qualify, the dentist will take an impression of your mouth to make your sleep apnea dental appliance. At Definitive Dental, we only take digital impressions to ensure perfect-fitting mouthpieces. The impressions are sent to a lab to custom design your device. When your device is ready, you’ll return to the office for fittings and further adjustments to optimize care.

Get Your Oral Device From Definitive Dental

While it may seem like an innocuous disorder, sleep apnea not only wrecks your health but is also a threat to public safety. Left untreated, sleep apnea can shorten your life and make you unhappy while you’re alive. Treating this debilitating condition is essential to protect the public from its negative effects and improve your quality of life.

If you’re thinking of getting a sleep apnea dental appliance in the Grand Prairie area, look no further than Definitive Dental. We are rated a top-three dentist in Grand Prairie, Texas because we deliver Dentistry Done Right. Whether you need a custom-made dental appliance or a routine dental checkup, we can help. Call or text us at (972) 646-0660 to book an appointment.

A young woman smiling and revealing perfect teeth

Do you have one or more missing teeth? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to the American College of Prosthodontics (ACP), more than 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Many factors, ranging from cavities to gum disease, can cause tooth loss. Missing teeth not only ruin your smile but also create a host of health problems.

If you have missing teeth, dental restoration can significantly improve your quality of life. The best teeth replacements currently available are dental crowns and bridges. What are dental crowns and bridges and how do they work? In this post, we’ll explain the difference between these two popular tooth replacement options so you can determine which one is right for you.

What are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are caps that cover a damaged tooth or a dental implant. When placed over a cracked, broken, or decayed tooth, dental crowns can protect the tooth and restore its structure, strength, and appearance. In dental restoration procedures, dental crowns are fixed on top of an implant to serve as the visible part of a missing tooth.

Dental crowns are very versatile and come in different types and compositions. Permanent crowns can be made out of metals, resins, porcelain, and ceramic. In addition to the diverse materials, crowns can offer different levels of coverage. While traditional crowns provide complete tooth coverage, onlays and ¾ crowns only cover a portion of the tooth.

What are Dental Bridges?

Although both are fixed artificial teeth, dental crowns and bridges are not the same. A dental bridge is a false tooth ⏤ called a pontic ⏤ that fills the empty space created by a missing tooth. If you have one or more missing teeth, multiple pontics can be used to bridge the gap. While crowns can also be applied to protect a tooth, bridges are only used to replace lost teeth.

Despite their differences, bridges rely on crowns to stay in place. A bridge consists of artificial teeth that are fused to crowns at both ends. The crowns are cemented onto existing teeth or attached to dental implants for support. Once anchored into position, the pontics rest in the area of the gums where there is tooth loss, restoring the look and function of your teeth.

Why Would You Need a Dental Crown?

Now that you know what dental crowns and bridges are, let’s discuss why you might need either one of them. Crowns and bridges have different uses. Your dental needs and budget will determine which option is best for you. Your dentist may recommend a dental crown for any of the following reasons:

  • Protect a weak tooth from breaking
  • Keep together parts of a cracked tooth
  • Restore a broken or severely worn down tooth
  • Strengthen a filled tooth when there isn’t enough tooth structure remaining
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cap a dental implant
  • Cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth
  • Make cosmetic enhancements
  • Reinforce a tooth that’s been treated with root canal

Why Would You Need a Dental Bridge?

A person wearing purple latex gloves and polishing a dental bridge

While crowns have many applications on their own, dental crown and bridge combinations are solely used to replace missing teeth. Many patients choose to forgo tooth replacement because of its costs. Dental bridges offer a more cost-effective way to get tooth restoration than dental implants. This can help you avoid issues like:

  • Drifting teeth
  • Bite problems
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Chewing and speaking difficulties
  • Pain from the extra stress on your teeth and jaws
  • Self-consciousness due to an embarrassing smile

What Is the Process for Getting Crowns and Bridges?

After learning what dental crowns and bridges are used for, we’ll describe what you should expect when getting them done. The process for getting crowns will differ depending on whether you’re seeking tooth replacement or protection. 

To replace missing teeth with dental crowns, you should first get dental implants. A dental implant is a small, screw-like post that is surgically placed below your gums to serve as tooth roots. Once the implant fuses with your jawbone, your dentist will attach an abutment to the post. When your gums and bone heal, the crown is screwed on or cemented to the abutment.

The process of receiving a crown for tooth protection is similar to getting a bridge because bridges have crowns at both ends. Here is what you should expect when getting dental crowns and bridges:

Dental Assessment

During the first visit, your dentist will examine the teeth that will receive crowns. This will involve taking dental x-rays to check the teeth’ roots and surrounding bone. If there is an injury to the pulp, extensive tooth decay, or a risk of infection, a root canal treatment may be performed to prevent tooth loss. 

Tooth Preparation

To receive dental crowns and bridges, the teeth must be prepared to accommodate the prosthetic caps. After numbing your teeth and their nearby gum tissue, your dentist will reshape the top and sides of the teeth that will receive crowns. This will allow the crowns to fit correctly over your teeth.

Mouth Impressions

A dental assistant taking a dental impression of a patient’s mouth

After preparing the teeth, an impression is taken of your entire mouth with a mold or digital scanner. At Definitive Dental, we only use digital scans because it gives us the most accurate model of your jaw and teeth. This ensures perfect fitting dental crowns and bridges, eliminating bite problems.

Temporary Crowns

The impressions are then sent to a lab to build your crowns or bridges. This process can take anywhere from 10 days to three weeks. In the meantime, you will get temporary crowns to cover the prepared teeth. Temporaries are necessary to avoid tooth shifting and calm hypersensitive teeth.

Permanent Replacements

When your permanent dental crowns and bridges are ready, you’ll return to the office to have them applied. After numbing your teeth, your dentist will remove the temporary crowns. The dentist will then examine the new bridge or crown’s color and fit. If everything is acceptable, the permanent crown/bridge is cemented to your teeth.

How to Care for Dental Crowns and Bridges

Getting artificial teeth doesn’t mean you can slack off on dental care. Practicing good dental hygiene helps you ward off oral diseases that destroy your gums and jawbone. Gum recession and bone loss can loosen crowns and bridges over time. Looking after your teeth is essential to make your crowns last longer.

After learning what dental crowns and bridges are, you should also know how to maintain them. Follow these oral care best practices to keep your natural and replacement teeth in tip-top shape:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Floss once daily to clean between teeth
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and rinses
  • Clean underneath the bridge with floss threaders or interproximal brushes
  • Get routine dental checkups every six months

Protect and Restore Your Teeth With Definitive Dental

Whether due to aging or oral diseases, tooth loss is an inevitable fact of life. But this doesn’t mean you should learn to live with missing teeth. From destroying your confidence to depriving you of your favorite foods, missing teeth impairs your quality of life. Getting a tooth replacement not only enhances your smile but also helps you live life to the fullest.

If you want to get dental crowns and bridges in the Grand Prairie area, you won’t find a better place than Definitive Dental. Rated a Top 3 Cosmetic Dentist in Grand Prairie, we Take Your Smile to New Heights. Experience Dentistry Done Right with pain-free procedures and plenty of comfort amenities. Call or text us today at (972) 646-0660 to book an appointment.

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