Sleep is vital to your health and overall well-being. That's why dentists offer solutions for sleep disorders, like sleep apnea. Here, our Bolton dentists explain what sleep apnea is and how they can help with treatment options.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal breathing pauses (apneas) or shallow breathing during sleep. These apneas can happen because of a physical blockage to airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.
What causes sleep apnea?
When you fall into a deep sleep, your tongue, soft palate, and throat tissues relax. For those with sleep apnea, the tongue, soft palate, and throat tissues actually over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of the throat and block your airway. When the flow of oxygen stops, the brain forces you to wake up to consciously resume breathing. These mini-episodes can occur hundreds of times a night.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
There are a number of symptoms of sleep apnea including trouble focusing, heavy snoring, headaches and migraines, fatigue, restless sleep, depression, irritability, and TMJ symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms you should undergo an assessment by a medical professional to receive a proper diagnosis.
If your dentist determines that you have symptoms of sleep apnea, you may be asked to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea.
How can sleep apnea be treated?
Many people are sleep deprived. Prolonged sleep deprivation can result in serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity. Sleep apnea, which occurs when breathing stops and starts during sleep, is a major cause of poor sleep.
Once you've been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists may be able to help you achieve a better night’s sleep with a variety of treatment options.
Oral appliances can help by moving your lower jaw forward, pulling your tongue away from your throat and soft palate, and thus opening your airway. Weight loss, exercise, and side sleeping are all lifestyle solutions that can help you achieve better breathing and more restful sleep. Your dentist can assist you in determining the best treatment option for you.
Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea prevents you from falling into the restorative deep sleep you need to recharge your brain and body. This can contribute to many medical disorders, and reduce the quality and longevity of your life.
Your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and well-being by treating sleep apnea.