Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can have a significant, negative impact on your health. Various dental appliances are available to help treat sleep apnea, and our Calgary dentists will discuss the options today.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) or shallow breathing while sleeping. Apneas can be caused by a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of 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 (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
What causes sleep apnea?
Your throat tissues, soft palate, and tongue relax as you fall asleep. When you have sleep apnea, your throat tissues and soft palate relax too much, collapsing into the back of your throat and blocking your airway.
The flow of oxygen stops when the airway is blocked, and your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. These episodes can occur hundreds of times per night, causing serious 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.
Although loud snoring is a well-known symptom of sleep apnea and can indicate a potentially serious problem, not everyone with the condition snores. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.
Your dentists can help you get a better night's sleep with a variety of treatment options once your problem has been diagnosed by a medical professional. To determine the best appliance for your needs, we will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, tongue, airway, and jaw, as well as possibly take an x-ray of your airway.
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 normally:
- 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?
You will be unable to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that will recharge your brain and body if you have sleep apnea. This can contribute to a variety of medical disorders and diseases.
Complications can range from metabolic syndrome to high blood sugar, both of which have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. You could also develop heart problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. You may be at a higher risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents as a result of your daytime fatigue.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.