Sleep apnea can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing. Luckily there is a selection of dental appliances available to help treat and manage this condition. Our dentists at Academy Dental Group in Winnipeg are going to discuss them with you today.
What is sleep apnea?
Dentists describe sleep apnea as having abnormal pauses in your breathing (apneas) or breathing shallowly as you sleep. Apneas happen when there is a lack of respiratory effort, a physical blockage of airflow, or both.
There are three different types of sleep apnea which are:
- Central sleep apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (happens when someone has central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea)
What causes sleep apnea?
When a person enters into a deep sleep, their throat tissues, soft palate and tongue relax. For people that have sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of their throat, blocking the airway.
When there is a blockage in the airway, the flow of oxygen ceases, and as a result your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. This can happen hundreds of times in a night, seriously disrupting a person's sleep.
How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep apnea has a hand full of symptoms including heavy snoring, headaches and migraines upon waking, restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, problems focusing, irritability, depression and TMJ symptoms.
Even though loud snoring is a well known symptom of sleep apnea not everyone with this condition will snore. If you struggle with any of these symptoms, you should see a medical professional to get an official diagnosis.
After your condition is diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists will be able to help you get a better night’s rest with a range of treatment options. Our team will complete a comprehensive examination of your jaw, airway, tongue and teeth, we may also take an X-ray of your airway, to determine the best appliance to meet your needs.
What sleep apnea devices or oral appliances can help?
Dental appliances are able to help you by positioning your lower jaw further forward, effectively pulling your tongue away from the soft palate and throat opening your airway. Dental appliances are:
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to care for
- Convenient for travel
- Easy to insert and remove
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
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 the quality and longevity of your life.
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.
When your dentist treats sleep apnea they improving and protecting your overall health and wellbeing.