Your health can be seriously affected by sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Many dental appliances are available to help treat sleep apnea, and today our Peterborough dentists will discuss some options.
What is sleep apnea?
Shallow breathing or abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) are both well-known signs of sleep apnea. These apneas can also occur due to a physical obstruction of airflow, lack of respiratory effort, or both.
The three types of sleep apnea are:
- Central sleep apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
What causes sleep apnea?
Your throat tissues, soft palate and tongue relax when you drift into deep sleep. In individuals with sleep apnea, throat tissues and the soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of the throat and block the airway.
When the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen stops and your brain forces you to wake up slightly so you can consciously begin to breathe again. These episodes can happen hundreds of times a night, leading to serious disruptions in sleep.
How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
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, you should visit a medical professional so you can receive a proper diagnosis.
Once your issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, a dentist can help you get a better night’s rest with a number of treatment options. Your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw will be examined, and an X-ray of your airway may be taken to determine the right appliance for your needs.
What sleep apnea devices or oral appliances 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 it important to treat sleep apnea?
If you have sleep apnea, you will be unable to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that recharges your brain and body. This can play a roll 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. Because of your daytime fatigue, you may be at an increased risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.