Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can have a very negative impact on your overall health. Luckily, there is a variety of different dental appliances that can help treat sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Today our dentists in Manitoba discuss sleep apnea and the treatments available.
Sleep apnea can be recognized by shallow breathing or abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) while a person sleeps. Apneas happen when there is a lack of respiratory effort, physical blockage of airflow, or a combination of both.
There are three different kinds of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
The Causes of Sleep Apnea
When you fall into a deep slumber, your tongue, throat tissues, and soft palate relax. If a person has sleep apnea, their soft palate, and throat tissues over-relax, making them fall 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. 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, 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, 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.
How Oral Appliances or Sleep Apnea Devices Can Help
Dental appliances help people with sleep apnea 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 insert and remove
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to care for
- Convenient for travel
The Importance of Treating Sleep Apnea
If you are suffering from sleep apnea, you won't be able to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that refreshes your body and brain. This could contribute to or lead to a variety of medical conditions, diseases, and disorders, as well as reduce the quality and longevity of your life.
Complications can include a wide variety of conditions such as 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 might be at a higher risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist will be able to help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.