Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can have a serious impact on your health. There are various dental appliances available to help treat sleep apnea, and today our Kenora 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:
- 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?
When you drift into a deep sleep, your throat tissues, soft palate, and tongue relax. For those with sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat. This blocks your 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, causing serious disruptions to your sleep.
How are Snoring and Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Symptoms of sleep apnea include heavy snoring, waking up with headaches and migraines, 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 you have been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists, with a number of treatment options, can help you get a better night’s rest. Your dentist will complete a full examination of your teeth, tongue, airway, and jaw. They may 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
- 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?
Sleep apnea affect those who have it by making them 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. Daytime fatigue may increase the risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.