What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing during sleep.
There are three different types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is when breathing during sleep is stopped in repetitive intervals. It’s caused by the obstruction and/or collapse of the upper airway. This results in an awakening, in order to breathe. This is called an “apnea event.” The respiratory system continues during this event; even though the upper airway is closed, the lungs continue to try to draw air into the system.
- Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is a neurological condition where the entire respiratory system shuts down for a short interval. The brainstem center controlling breathing shuts down, which results in awakening via an automatic breathing reflex. Often, the person with central sleep apnea will end up waking up repeatedly throughout the night. Central sleep apnea is a neurological condition. Obstructive sleep apnea is a physical blockage. They are different conditions, although they have similar effects.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea
Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the two. It usually starts with a central component – central sleep apnea – and then becomes obstructive in nature. Generally, the central component of the apnea becomes less troublesome once the obstructive is treated.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Often, the person suffering from sleep apnea may be unaware of how serious their condition may be. They may not fully be aware of how often they’re waking up throughout the night.
The most accurate description of your sleep apnea condition will often come from your bedmate.
The following are several key symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Loud, frequent snoring
- Breathing cessation during the night (most likely, you will not notice this, but a bedmate will)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Excessive body movement (which often accompany the apnea-related awakenings)
What can be done to alleviate sleep apnea?
There are a few categories for effective treatments. They are weight loss, surgery, smoking cessation, dental appliances, and breathing-assistance devices. The most popular and effective device is one which delivers air under slight pressure to the airway by the way of a nasal mask. All breathing-assistance devices are variations of the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device, or CPAP device.
How can a cosmetic dentist help me?
A cosmetic dentist can help set you on the right path for treatment by diagnosing any jaw and mouth alignment problems which may be causing your sleep apnea. A cosmetic dentist can help you with the application of a CPAP device or any other treatments they feel will alleviate your problem.
If your apnea is the result of neurological condition, your cosmetic dentist can help diagnose this, as well, and direct you to an appropriate doctor.