lesser known ways to manage sleep apnea

Lesser-known ways to Manage Sleep Apnea

lesser known ways to manage sleep apneaThousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, CA

If you’re one of the 22 million Americans living with untreated obstructive sleep apnea, you need to seek treatment. Sleep apnea is a severe medical condition. Taking a “wait and see” approach, or thinking the problem may go away on its own, is the worst decision you can make for your health. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and looked into treatment, you probably know about using a CPAP machine. You may even have learned about oral appliance therapy, the preferred method of treatment at Integrative Dental Arts. However, your holistic dentists in Agoura Hills would like to educate you on some other, lesser-known ways we can help you manage your sleep apnea.

What is myofunctional therapy, and how can it help with sleep apnea?

Myofunctional therapy involves prescribing you with a series of exercises, working the tongue and the muscles of the orofacial system—your mouth and face. These exercises can re-train those muscles, correcting any negative oral habits. One of the typical goals of myofunctional therapy is to achieve the ideal oral resting posture: with lips closed, teeth closed, and the tongue resting gently against the upper palate.

The benefits of myofunctional therapy were discussed at the most recent annual meeting of SLEEP, a joint conference hosted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Two abstracts presented at the meeting showed that myofunctional therapy can benefit people from sleep apnea.

The first, presented by Dr. Mayumu Suzuki at Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital, noted that among older patients with sleep apnea, practicing myofunctional exercises reduced the number of apnea attacks—which refer to each instance where the airway becomes impeded or completely blocked during sleep. Studying a group of patients with an average age of 71, participants performed myofunctional therapy exercises three times a day, adding that to their existing regimen of sleep apnea prevention: either CPAP or wearing an oral appliance. No matter whether CPAP or oral appliances were used, combining these methods with myofunctional therapy resulted in a decrease in apnea attacks. 

The second study, presented by Dr. Payam Aghassi from the Massachusetts Lung and Allergy Center, had sleep apnea patients wear head sensors while sleeping with their head inclined less than 20 degrees from the horizon created by their pillow. A whopping 86 percent of participants experienced an improvement of at least 70 percent in the oxygen levels in their blood, as well as an improvement in their apnea-hypopnea index—a scale used to measure the severity of a case of sleep apnea, based on the number of apnea events that occur per hour while sleeping.

Myofunctional Therapy in Agoura Hills

Integrative Dental Arts is a holistic dental practice in Agoura Hills. That means we seek the least invasive methods possible in treating any problem. We believe that myofunctional therapy fits nicely with that philosophy. This method of therapy has been offered at our practice for quite some time. Our myofunctional therapist can evaluate the movement of your tongue and facial muscles, then come up with an individualized regimen of exercises tailored to you and your specific needs. By achieving the ideal oral resting posture, this encourages the preferred method of breathing through the nose—limiting your likelihood of breathing through your mouth while asleep, which is a precursor to snoring. Myofunctional therapy also can prevent the tongue from sliding into the airway, blocking, or restricting airflow.

Start getting the quality rest you need. To find out if myofunctional therapy can help with your sleep apnea, or learn more about how Integrative Dental Arts can treat this sleep breathing disorder through oral appliance therapy, give us a call at (818) 889-0400 to schedule a consultation if you live in the areas of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, California.