Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can significantly impact your health and your quality of sleep. There are a number of dental appliances that are available to help treat sleep apnea and here our Whitehorse dentist explain some of the options available you.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that described shallower-than-normal breathing and apneas (or abnormal pauses in breathing) during sleep. Apneas in particular, can be caused by a physical blockage of the flow of air, a lack of subconscious respiratory effort or a combination of the two.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea)
What causes sleep apnea?
When drifting into a deep sleep, your tongue, soft palate and throat all naturally relax. This relaxation happens far more than normal in those with sleep apnea, causing them to collapse into the back of the throat and block the airway.
When the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen ceases, and as a result your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. These episodes may happen hundreds of times a night, seriously disrupting your sleep.
How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
The symptoms of sleep apnea can include headaches, heavy snoring, migraines when you wake, excessive daytime fatigue, irritability, depression, TMJ symptoms, restless sleep and issue focusing on tasks.
While loud snoring is a notorious symptom of sleep apnea and may indeed indicate a serious sleep disorder, not all people suffering from sleep apnea will snore. If you experience any of the above symptoms with any regualrity, you should visit a medical professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis.
Once your issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you get a better night’s rest with a number of treatment options. We will complete a full examination of your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw, and potentially take an x-ray of your airway, to determine the right 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 roll in many medical disorders and diseases, and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications associated with sleep apnea can include a wide variety of conditions like metabolic syndrome and a high blood sugar level, which is in turn linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Sleep apnea is also associated with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and resistance to insulin. It's also connected to an increased risk of automobile and workplace accidents caused by long-term daytime fatigue.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.