Sleep apnea can have a negative impact on your health and the longevity of your life. The good news is there are dental appliances that can help manage your sleep apnea, and our Whitehorse dentists are here to talk to you about it's symptoms and the devices that can help.
What is sleep apnea?
Medical professionals describe sleep apnea as abnormal breathing pauses (called apneas) or breathing shallowly while sleeping. These apneas can happen due to a physical blockage of airflow or/and a lack of respiratory effort.
There is three different types of sleep apnea and they are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
The causes of sleep apnea
When you drift into deep sleep, your throat tissues, soft palate and tongue relax. For individuals 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 stops, and as a result your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. This could happen hundreds of times in a single night, seriously disturbing your sleep.
Diagnosing sleep apnea and snoring
The symptoms of sleep apnea consist of excessive day time fatigue, heavy snoring, restless sleep, depression, focusing problems, irritability, TMJ symptoms and headaches and migraines upon waking.
Loud snoring is probably one of the most well-known symptoms of sleep apnea and may likely indicate a serious problem, although not every person with sleep apnea will snore. If you have any of these symptoms, we recommend seeing a medical professional to get a diagnosis.
As soon as a medical professional diagnoses your sleep apnea your dentist will go over the potential treatment options that can help you sleep better at night. The dentist will conduct a full assessment of your airway, teeth, jaw and tongue, they might also perform an X-ray of your airway, to learn which appliance will best meet 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
The importance of treating 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 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. 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 wellbeing.