Treat Sleep Apnea With A Dental Appliance
You’ve been told you snore. You’ve been waking up with a headache. Or maybe you’ve been suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue and having some memory loss. You might have obstructive sleep apnea.
At Clearwater Dental Associates, in Clearwater, FL, we can help you if you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea, but our focus is on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is caused when the muscles in your throat relax when you’re sleeping. That causes your airway to become blocked.
You stop breathing momentarily until your brain pulls your body awake to get you breathing again. Most of the time you don’t even know this is happening and it can happen up to 50 times an hour!
The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring. But you may also wake up gasping for air or choking. When these symptoms are allowed to go on, they can become more dangerous, causing headaches, daytime sleepiness, and trouble concentrating.
A number of things can contribute to sleep apnea:
- Your weight. (Being overweight or obese is one of the main risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea.)
- Neck circumference. People with thicker necks may have narrower airways. For men, risk increases with a neck circumference of 17 inches or more. In women, it’s 15 inches or more.
- A narrowed airway. A lot of things can cause a narrow throat. You may have been born with it or it may be caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
- Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to develop OSA than people who have never smoked. Smoking can inflame the throat and increase fluid retention in the upper airway.
- Chronic nasal congestion. If you have trouble breathing through your nose for one reason or another, you are more likely to develop OSA.
- Alcohol use. Any substance that acts like a sedative can relax the muscles in your throat.
- Family history. If family members have OSA, you are at an increased risk.
Even the position you sleep in can bring on some symptoms of sleep apnea.
A doctor must determine if you have OSA. A doctor who is a sleep specialist can provide you with a complete sleep evaluation. The doctor will be able to see from the data readouts how many times you wake up a night and assess you from there.
How OSA Is Treated
Your doctor may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliance therapy or surgery.
- CPAP therapy involved a machine that pushes air through your airways when you stop breathing. You will have to wear a mask while you sleep.
- Oral appliance therapy uses a mouthguard-like device that helps keep your airway open while you sleep.
- Surgical options involve the removal and repositioning of excess tissue in the throat to widen the airway.
At Clearwater Dental Associates, we offer oral appliances for sleep apnea patients. These oral appliances are comfortable and are effective at keeping your airways open so that you can sleep without interruption. The appliance fits over your teeth and pushes your lower jaw forward, which helps maintain an open breathing passage.
The oral appliance is a lot more convenient than a CPAP machine, especially if you travel.
Why You Should Treat Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea can cause further physical problems, some of which can be dangerous. If your sleep is interrupted it can impair your cognitive abilities, lead to trouble concentrating, and increase your risk of accidents.
The sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that happen during OSA can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. OSA might also increase the risk of heart attacks and irregular heartbeat.
There is some research that indicates that people with OSA are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
With these risks involved, not treating sleep apnea is not an option. You can see why it is so important to take care of this problem now!
If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, come see the dentists at Clearwater Dental Associates. We can fit you with a dental appliance that may be all you need to rid yourself of OSA. Call us at 727-373-6628 or use our online form to make an appointment.