Do you wake up often in the middle of the night to adjust your position? Do you snore often? If so, you may have a condition called sleep apnea. Those that wake up from a long night of sleep only to feel tired and groggy all day may also be at risk for this condition. It's an important one to understand and receive treatment for because long-term sleep apnea can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
At Dental Excellence, our team may be able to help you alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy. If you've been diagnosed with this condition, schedule a consultation with us to discuss your options.
Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder that commonly occurs when a person is sleeping. Those who have it have numerous interruptions of normal breathing cycles while they are sleeping. Sometimes, these disruptions occur hundreds of times a night. Most people do not know they are occurring. That's because the brain only wakes you up enough to allow for a shift in position to clear the airway again. Sometimes, the worst of these episodes can last for a minute or more with no regular breaths.
The lack of proper breathing over an extended period of time like this, coupled with poor sleep quality, may lead to a number of health risks. That may include:
Because sleep apnea can have such a significant impact on your overall health, it's critical to get treatment for it as soon as possible if you believe you may have it.
There are several forms of sleep apnea, with the most common being obstructive sleep apnea. In this situation, the throat muscles relax during sleep. This can cause the tissues in that area to close the airway, making it difficult to breathe. These muscles help to support the soft palate, tonsils, sidewalls of the throat, and other tissues in the area.
As the muscles relax, the airway closes up. This causes a lack of oxygen to enter into the lungs and eventually into the bloodstream. This causes the brain to sense the inability to breathe and to rouse you enough to open the airway again. This typically happens in seconds, which is why most people do not know they are waking up this often. This can happen 5 to 30 times an hour, and it may go on all night long.
Dental technology is now helping many people to get the relief they need from sleep apnea. The first step in treatment is to obtain a sleep study. This may be done in your home or in a lab. The goal is to determine if you are experiencing a closing of the airway and lack of airflow, as well as how severe it is based on how frequently it is happening. Once this is understood, your doctors may recommend one or more treatment options.
For those with obstructive sleep apnea, one of the more common options for treatment is the use of a customized oral appliance. This is a small plastic device that is placed into your mouth and over your teeth while you sleep. This process may help to prevent the muscles and tissues from closing in and narrowing the airway. In those who use this method, it may be possible to avoid the need for more invasive surgical procedures.
An oral appliance is designed by your dentist just for you. It is the proper size and shape for your oral cavity, which means it is designed to be more comfortable for you as you sleep at night. These appliances are easy to put into and pull out of your mouth. Over a short period of time, most people forget they are there and can drift off to sleep without a problem.
What's most important is that the oral appliance is positioned properly and used every night. When that happens, it may help to eliminate some or all of your snoring while also allowing you to sleep better at night. Many people who use these devices report better quality of sleep within just a few days.
An oral appliance is often a better option for those who have a mild to moderate level of sleep apnea. For those who have more complex cases, a doctor may recommend the use of a CPAP or surgery. A CPAP is a device that is placed over the nose and mouth. It creates a steady stream of air that keeps the airway open, allowing you to sleep better and through the night.
A CPAP may be a recommendation for many people, even those with milder symptoms. However, when applicable, an oral appliance may offer a better result. It tends to be quiet and easier to get used to than the use of a CPAP. Oral appliances are also more portable from place to place.
If your doctor recommends a CPAP for you because you have a severe form of sleep apnea, be sure to follow through with that use. Our dentists may be able to help you navigate if you qualify for an oral appliance as well.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, one of the first steps to take is to set up an appointment with a local sleep lab for a sleep study. Our team may be able to help you find just what you need.
If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, set up an appointment with Dental Excellence. Our team will work with you to determine the best possible treatment options for your needs. We offer customized oral appliances that may help you sleep better. Contact us today for an appointment.