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Some people may have sleep apnea, but are unaware of the problem. This condition is characterized by pauses in breathing while a person is asleep, which can leave him or her feeling tired throughout the day, even if he or she got seven or eight hours of rest. People who have this condition should visit their doctor, who may direct them to a dental health professional for treatment.
What do dentists have to do with sleep apnea? According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common treatment for this condition is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. CPAP consistently delivers air into a person's throat to keep it from closing, but the individual needs to wear a mask over his or her face throughout the course of the night, which can be uncomfortable. This is where dentists can help.
The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine states that dentists can create custom oral appliances that help keep the throat open throughout the night without the use of a CPAP machine. This may be a more comfortable and less intrusive way to treat sleep apnea.
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