What is Sleep Apnea?
How you sleep affects all areas of your health, so an issue that prevents you from sleeping well can be harmful to your overall body health. Sleep apnea, a condition in which during sleep your muscles relax and cause soft tissue to collapse and block your airway, is one of the most common sleeping problems. The constant cessation of breathing lowers your levels of oxygen and can startle you awake at random periods throughout the night.
Commons indications of sleep apnea include snoring, choking sounds, and gasping during sleep. Factors such as a narrow airway, excess body weight, or a misaligned jaw can increase the risk of the condition and although it is more common in men, it can occur in women.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Snoring is a very common sign of obstructive sleep apnea because as the airway constricts it leads to turbulent airflow and vibration of the soft tissues, which we hear as snoring. About 30% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, and about 70% of people with obstructive sleep apnea are snorers. Especially indicative of sleep apnea is snoring that ends with gasping or choking.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Waking at night or in the morning with a headache or feeling unrested
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Depression, irritability, mood swings
- Medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are a few different types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. Obstructive is the most common and occurs when your throat muscles relax. Central sleep apnea happens when your brain neglects to send proper signals to the muscles that are responsible for breathing. Complex sleep apnea occurs when an individual has a combination of both obstructive and central.
Why is Treatment Important?
The frequent interruptions to your sleep can result in issues such as fatigue, morning sleepiness, memory loss, and morning headaches. These effects alone can be a detriment to your everyday life; however, sleep apnea additionally increases your risk for serious health problems such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic acid reflux, and erectile dysfunction.
Sleep Apnea cannot be diagnosed properly in our office; instead we encourage you to seek a diagnosis from a certified sleep medicine physician. However, we may talk with you about the possibility of having this condition due to other observations made while you’re at your standard examinations. For instance, one of the first signs of sleep apnea is bruxism or teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can cause tooth wear, breakage, and the recession and inflammation of gums. While you’re being examined, one of our staff may note the worn surface of your teeth or notice a spike in the number of cavities you receive. The grinding of teeth, after all, makes them susceptible to the bacteria that causes cavities. A small jaw, redness in the throat caused by excessive snoring, and a tongue with scalloped edges are also signs of the condition.
At the point that we believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, we will recommend you seek out the help of specified professionals. You may have to participate in an overnight sleep study at a sleep center or an at home sleep apnea test in order to properly determine whether you have this condition. Data collected during these tests will be interpreted by a specialist to ascertain whether or not you suffer from sleep apnea.
Our dedication to your complete health means that we offer a type of treatment in-office should you find yourself diagnosed with sleep apnea. After all, dentists are often one of the earliest diagnosticians of sleeping disorders.
What We Offer
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a professional, there is a way that we came help restore a more natural healthy balance to your sleep schedule. We implement what is referred to as Oral Appliance Therapy, which involves the use of a custom-made piece like a mouth guard being placed on your teeth in order to support the jaw. By supporting the jaw, the mouth guard is meant to prevent your airway from collapsing during sleep. Also, a custom mouth guard can help reduce grinding and the subsequent headaches, cavities, and jaw pain that result from that. This is only in the case of custom mouth guards and over-the-counter or stock guards may make sleep apnea worse.
If we believe you might have a condition like sleep apnea, we will discuss this with you while you are in our office. In the event that you have any questions about what we offer and how it may help, feel free to reach out to us!