What Can You Do for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can cause many problems, which is why you need to know if you have it. If your breathing is irregular during sleep, you could have sleep apnea. Dentists like Dr. Ania can help you diagnose your condition by detecting whether or not you have trouble breathing while you sleep.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects a person’s breathing. When breathing is affected during sleep, it can affect the quality of rest and the body’s functionality while awake. There are three common types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form and happens when breathing pauses during sleep due to relaxed throat muscles. While we sleep, our throats remain open enough to allow airflow. However, some people have smaller throats than others, so when it relaxes the tissues close up enough that the airway becomes blocked. This is apnea.
Central sleep apnea happens when the brain doesn’t send the appropriate signs to muscles, affecting how breathing happens. Complex sleep apnea is the combination of both OSA and central sleep apnea.
What are Risk Factors?
Some people are more at risk for sleep apnea than others. MedlinePlus lists the common risk factors of developing OSA are:
- An upper jaw that is longer than the lower jaw
- Having the roof of your mouth shaped in a way that could cause it to shut more easily
- Large necks or collar sizes: bigger than 17 inches in men and 16 inches in women
- Tongues that are large in size that can block the airway
- Being overweight
- Large tonsils and adenoids
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The symptoms can be similar no matter the type you have. Common signs of obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea can be:
- Loud or aggressive snoring
- Having breathing stop while you sleep, most noticed by another person
- Gasping for air while sleeping
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Headaches upon waking
- Excessive daytime tiredness and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Sleep apnea can be a dangerous condition if left untreated. Dental sleep medicine is an arm of dentistry that focuses on diagnosing and treating breathing disorders that happen while sleeping. Dental sleep medicine partners the expertise of dentists with that of sleep doctors to help patients get the best possible treatment for their condition.
In most cases, a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) machine is used to help patients that suffer from this. The machine fits over the nose and mouth and blows air into the airway. Due to this, your airway will stay open while you sleep. However, if you find that this treatment isn’t the best for you personally, there are other options.
Alternative Treatment Options
If you are seeking alternative treatment options to the CPAP machine, this is when working with a dentist is beneficial. Oral appliance therapy can help treat mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance is similar to a mouthguard. This device helps keep your jaw in a forward position while you sleep, therefore keeping the airway open. These are custom-fit to the individual’s mouth, which means it can be more comfortable and tolerable than a CPAP machine.
Other benefits of oral appliance therapy include that it’s:
- Easily portable, so you can travel place to place with it easily
- No electricity is required, so you can sleep anywhere
- Long-term and long-lasting
- Easy to clean
How to Get Started
If you believe you have OSA, the first step is to make an appointment. Next, a sleep study will more than likely be done to track how you sleep. The sleep study will look at your overall sleep by tracking eye movements, muscle activity and heart rate, airflow, and blood oxygen levels.
If Dr. Ania and you decide an oral appliance is the best treatment for your condition, getting it made is a quick and easy process. First, impressions of your teeth will be made. Next, the impressions are sent to a lab where they will custom make your device. Then, you’ll come back in for a follow-up appointment to check the fit of your device. Dr. Ania will then adjust it if needed for optimal comfort.
Learn More with Dr. Ania
If you think you have sleep apnea and are showing signs like snoring or difficulty breathing while sleeping, make an appointment with Dr. Ania. She practices dental sleep medicine and is conveniently located here in Boulder, Colorado. Sleep longer and better with Dr. Ania’s help. Call for an appointment today: (303)-872-9940.