Did you know that an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from some degree of obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is characterized by an interruption to the normal pattern of breathing during the night? Episodes of sleep apnea can be singular or a patient could experience as many as 100 per single night of sleep. When they do, they will appear to hold their breath, recommencing breathing against with a snort, gasp or snore. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea can find that they experience a range of adverse effects as a result of their condition including poor quality sleep, daytime lethargy and more.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder and as such, many people think that it is something that can only be dealt with by their doctor. However, it is also a condition that can be managed and treated by your dentist. We are pleased to be able to offer a comprehensive sleep apnea treatment service where our experienced team will work with you to determine what is causing your sleep apnea and what the most effective solution is likely to be.
Sleep apnea has many different causes, but in adults who develop the condition, the most common denominator is excess weight and obesity. Patients who are overweight are more likely to have surplus soft tissue at the back of their throat and in their neck. When you sleep, the muscles and tissues in the neck, throat, and tongue all relax and if you have excess amounts, this could block the airway. Your body then has to recognize that the airway is blocked. When it does, it will trigger you to take a much larger breath than usual which is sufficient to push past the blockage and allow you to start breathing again.
There are also certain lifestyle factors that mean that a person is more likely to suffer from sleep apnea including:
- Drinking alcohol just before bed
- Taking certain prescription medications such as those containing sedatives
- Taking recreational drugs
- A family history of sleep apnea
In most instances, the initial symptoms of sleep apnea are identified by someone else – usually the person you share a bed or room with. Signs of sleep apnea can include:
- Loud snoring interrupted by pauses in breathing
- Noisy and labored breathing
- Night Sweats
- Waking up frequently during the night to urinate
- Waking with a headache
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Medical history high blood pressure
- Medical history of heart disease
- Medical history of stroke
- Medical history of diabetes
- Medical history of gerd
- Large or scalloped tongue
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- If your neck size m > 17 inches
- If your neck size w > 15 inches
- Body Mass Index (BMI) > 30
Fortunately, sleep apnea is completely treatable, making it possible for both you and your partner to get a good night’s sleep. Initially, you may be recommended to make a few lifestyle changes. A large percentage of sleep apnea patients can obtain considerable relief from their symptoms by making a few small changes to their day to day routine. This could be losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, swapping your usual medication for a different variety or even sleeping in a different position.
If the changes recommended by your dentist are not as effective as you would like, you may be given the opportunity to wear a mandibular advancement device. Also known as a MAD, this device fits around your teeth and holds your jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of your throat while you sleep. This gives more room for airflow and reduces the likelihood of a blockage occurring.
Finally, you may be recommended to try a CPAP machine. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a special machine that delivers a continuous flow of oxygen to your airway via a mask that is placed over your nose and mouth while you sleep.
If you have further questions about sleep apnea, or if you would like to arrange an appointment to speak to our experienced and discreet dental team, please don’t hesitate to make contact by calling our dental clinic in Matteson, IL today by calling 708-747-4294.