Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can seriously impact your health. There are various dental appliances available to help treat sleep apnea and, today, our Sault Ste. Marie dentists explain the options.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) or shallow breathing while an individual sleeps. 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 (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Your neck tissues, soft palate, and tongue relax as you fall asleep. Sleep apnea causes the throat tissues and soft palate to over-relax, causing them to collapse towards the back of your throat and obstruct 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.
How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
Heavy snoring, headaches and migraines upon waking, restless sleep, increased daily weariness, difficulty focusing, irritability, depression and TMJ issues are all signs of sleep apnea.
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.
After a medical practitioner has recognized your problem, your dentists may help you obtain a better night's sleep with a variety of treatment choices. 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.
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
- Convenient for travel
- Easy to insert and remove
- Comfortable to wear
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
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 role in many medical disorders and diseases and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications might vary from metabolic syndrome to high blood sugar, which is related 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 well-being.