Sleep Apnea: What Is It?
when an individual has sleep apnea they will experience abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) or shallow breathing while sleeping. These apneas can occur due to a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.
The 3 different types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (a combination of both)
What are the causes of sleep apnea?
While you are sleeping the muscles in your face and mouth relax. including your tongue. For those with sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat, blocking the airway.
When the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen ceases, and as a result, your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. This becomes disruptive to your sleep pattern when you are waking up multiple times a night
How will a medical professional diagnose sleep apnea?
Symptoms of sleep apnea include heavy snoring, headaches and migraines upon waking, restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, problems focusing, irritability, depression and TMJ symptoms.
Though loud snoring is a notorious symptom and may indicate a potentially serious problem, not everyone who has sleep apnea will snore. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical consultation and examination as soon as possible to receive a diagnosis.
Once your issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you get a better night’s rest with a number of treatment options. We will complete a full examination of your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw, and potentially take an x-ray of your airway, to determine the right appliance for your needs.
Are there any devices or dental appliances that can help?
Dental appliances can help by positioning your lower jaw further forward, effectively pulling your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate to open your airway. These dental appliances are:
- Easy to care for
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to insert and remove
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
- Convenient for travel
Why is treating sleep apnea so important?
Deep, restorative sleep is imperative to your overall health and if you are suffering from sleep apnea then you may be frequently deprived of this type of restful sleep. This can play a role in many medical disorders and diseases, and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications can include a wide range of conditions from metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. You may also experience heart problems, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and resistance to insulin. Sleep apnea is also known to cause daytime fatigue which can directly result in accidents and injuries including workplace and vehicular incidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and well-being.