Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can quite seriously impact your health and the quality of your sleep. There are a number of different dental appliances that are available to help treat sleep apnea and here, our Selkirk dentists walk through some of the options.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal pauses in your breathing (also called apneas) or shallower-than-normal breathing during sleep. Apneas can occur either because of a lack of respiratory effort during sleep,m a physical blockage of the airway to a combination of 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 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, blocking the airway.
When the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen to your brain and body stops and you are forced slightly awake in order to consciously resume breathing. Thes episodes can happen as frequently as hundreds of times in the night.
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 sleep apnea has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists will be able to help you get a better night's rest with an array of treatment options. Your dentist will conduct an exam of your tongue, teeth, jaw and aiways as well as potentially take x-rays.
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:
- Convenient for travel
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to care for
- Easy to insert and remove
- 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 won't be able to fall into a restorative sleep that recharges your brain for the day ahead. This can play a significant role in many different medical disorders and reduce the length and quality of your life.
Some complications associated with sleep apnea can include conditions like high blood sugar and metabolic syndrome, both of which lead to an increased risk of heart disease. You may also experience other heart issues, high blood pressure, resistance top insulin and type-2 diabetes. Because of the level of fatigue you will experience during the day, your risk of automobile and workplace accidents are also increased.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.