Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can seriously impact your health. There are various dental appliances available to help treat sleep apnea, and today our Bolton dentists explain the options.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep (apneas) or shallow breathing. These apneas may be caused by a physical obstruction of the airway, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central 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, blocking the airway.
When the airway is obstructed, oxygen flow ceases, and as a result, your brain forces you to awaken slightly in order to resume breathing consciously. These episodes may occur hundreds of times per night, causing severe sleep disruption.
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 issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can offer a variety of treatment options to help you get a better night's sleep. We will examine your teeth, tongue, airway, and jaw, as well as potentially take an x-ray of your airway, in order to determine the best 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?
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 role in many medical disorders and diseases, and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications can include a variety of conditions, such as metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Also possible are heart problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. Due to your daytime fatigue, you may be more likely to be involved in work or automobile accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and well-being.