What Is Sleep Apnea?
Our office at Loretto Family Dentistry is able to provide treatment for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common but potentially serious sleep disorder where the breathing stops numerous times throughout the night, causing oxygen shortage and chronic sleep deprivation issues like insomnia, night terrors, increased risks of heart problems and stroke, depression and even sudden death.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it could be a result of sleep apnea: loud snoring, moodiness, feeling tired even after a whole night sleep, and lack of energy and vitality throughout the day. Pay attention if you are waking up tired or experiencing low reflexes, for they are also potential signs of sleep apnea. Choking and gasping during sleep may lead to night terrors. Get in touch as soon as possible to prevent major health problems.
Different Types of Apnea and Risk Factors
There are two kinds of apnea. The most common is obstructive apnea, caused by the physical blockage of the airways due to the excessive relaxation of soft tissue in the throat region. It could also be caused by problems related to the central nervous system, when the brain fails to control the breathing while asleep, which is less common. The patient may also present both types of apnea, constituting complex sleep apnea.
The risk factors that enhance the chances of having sleep apnea are obesity, smoking, drug or alcohol abuse and genetic physical traits like a large neck circumference, tonsils or adenoids, down syndrome, recessed chin, large overbite and others.
Treatments Available for Sleep Apnea
One potential treatment is with a device called CPAP, standing for Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure, where the blockages are prevented by forcing a constant flow of air with the help of a mask covering your mouth and nose. In the beginning, it is hard to adapt, but the benefits are so great that most patients get used to it rapidly.
Oral appliance therapies are becoming very popular thanks to their practicality and comfort. They are also quieter, which is better if you sleep with someone else. There are several kinds of oral appliances, and the most common are internal and made of acrylic, looking like an athletic mouthguard. They may also be external, helping you breathe by adjusting your lower jaw’s position. There are other designs of oral appliances, and their goal is to keep your airways open by keeping your jaw or your tongue on the right place.
For advanced cases of sleep apnea, implanting a pacemaker system is a new treatment. Surgical options for obstructive apnea are the extraction of tonsils, adenoids and excessive tissues from inside the nose or the back of the throat, enlarging the airways. Plastic rods implanted into the soft palates or reconstructing the jaw for upper airway enlargement are also possible. To learn if you have sleep apnea, schedule a polysomnography.
We can evaluate your breathing pattern while you are asleep and recommend the treatment that best fits your condition. For any questions, call our office Loretto Family Dentistry at (940) 287-3535 and we will be happy to help you.