Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can have a negative effect on your overall health. However, there is a handful of dental appliances that can help your sleep apnea, here our Winnipeg dentists discuss them with you.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is defined as abnormal pauses in breathing (called apneas) or shallow breathing while a person is asleep. A physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both can cause apneas.
There are three types of sleep apnea which are:
- 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 fall into a deep sleep, your throat tissues, soft palate, and tongue relax. When people have sleep apnea, their throat tissues, and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat, blocking the airway.
When the airway becomes blocked, the flow of oxygen halts and your brain forces you to slightly wake up in order to consciously resume breathing. This can happen hundreds of times in a single night, severely disrupting your sleep.
How is snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
The symptoms of sleep apnea include 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 (it may indicate a potentially serious condition), not every person with it will snore. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis.
After your issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, a dentist will be able to help you get a better night’s sleep with a variety of treatment options. The dentist will complete a comprehensive examination of your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw, and potentially take an x-ray of your airway, to determine which appliance will meet your individual requirements.
What sleep apnea devices or oral appliances can help?
Dental appliances can help by moving your lower jaw further forward, effectively pulling your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate to open your airway. Dental appliances are:
- Easy to care for
- Convenient for travel
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to insert and remove
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
Why it's important to treat your sleep apnea
If you are suffering from sleep apnea, you won't be able to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that recharges your brain and body. This can play a role in many medical conditions, disorders and diseases reducing your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications with sleep apnea can include a wide range of conditions including 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, type 2 diabetes, and resistance to insulin. Because of your daytime fatigue, you might also be at an increased risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
When you have a dentist treat your sleep apnea, they will be able to help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.