Sometimes, the best possible care for medical conditions requires a balance of visiting a primary care doctor and a dentist. For example, sleep apnea is often treated with a combination of options from your physician and your dentist. Once you're diagnosed with sleep apnea, you'll want to spend some time with both care providers to find the best possible treatment options for your unique situation. Here's a look at a few of the treatment options you may want to consider.

Breathing Support

Most physicians start by implementing breathing support during sleep. The machine most often used for this is called a CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The machine itself has a compressor, hoses and a face mask.

You wear the mask while you sleep, and the compressor forces a consistent level of air through your airways at predetermined intervals. The CPAP is a versatile treatment option no matter what position you tend to sleep in. There are mask styles designed to fit most any facial structure, and the air flow helps to keep your airways open.

Dental Appliance Therapy

If the CPAP machine doesn't work for you or you find the mask uncomfortable, your dentist may be an ideal alternative. He or she can work with you to create a custom mouthpiece to help you combat the symptoms of sleep apnea.

The most common choice for dental appliance therapy is a device referred to as a mandibular advancement device. It resembles an athlete's mouth guard, but it's designed to shift your lower jaw so that it sits forward slightly. This will help to open your airway slightly, making it easier for you to breathe while you sleep.

Soft Palate Surgery

If all of the other methods fail to address your sleep apnea symptoms successfully, your dentist and primary care doctor may suggest that you see an oral surgeon. The surgeon will evaluate your soft palate and may remove some tissue from there or make other alterations to your jaw. This is an extensive treatment option, so it's usually reserved for the most severe cases or those that don't respond to any other treatment.

You should never overlook sleep apnea symptoms as no big deal. No matter what treatment option you choose, it's essential that you find one that works for you, because untreated sleep apnea can lead to fatigue, cardiovascular concerns and more. Work with your health care team to find the best treatment for your situation today.

Contact a dental office like Empire Dental for more details.

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