Sleep Apnea: What is it?
If you experience shallow breathing or regular pauses (apneas) then you may be experiencing the symptoms of a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. These apneas can occur due to a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
The Unfortunate Effects of Sleep Apnea
While you can expect all parts of your body to relax when you are sleeping. In patients affected by sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of the 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. These episodes may happen hundreds of times a night, seriously disrupting your sleep.
Diagnosing Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Heavy Snoring
- Headaches & Migraines
- Restless Sleep,
- Excessive Daytime Fatigue
- Problems Focusing
- 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, you should visit a medical professional so you can receive a proper 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.
Treatment Using Dental Appliances
Dental appliances may be able to help improve your symptoms by changing the positioning of your jaw, effectively pulling your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate to open your airway. Some of these 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
The Importance of Treating Sleep Apnea
The impact of sleep apnea on your body can have an effect on your state of restfulness. This can play a role in many medical disorders and diseases, and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications from sleep apnea often include conditions from metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, which are known to increase the risk of heart disease. You may also experience heart problems, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and resistance to insulin. Because of your daytime fatigue, you may be at an increased risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
In order to help protect your overall health, your dentist may be able to offer recommendations for treating sleep apnea including the use of dental appliances.