Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder marked by interruptions and pauses in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the airway, such as the tongue rolling back in the throat or collapsed tissues in the airway. This occurs when the muscles that support the soft tissues in your throat, such as your tongue and soft palate, temporarily relax. When these muscles relax, your airway is narrowed or closed, and breathing is momentarily cut off. You may notice that you or your partner snort, choke or gasp. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night, impairing your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep. Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to several serious health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and liver problems.
Some factors that may increase the risk of sleep apnea include:
Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a sleep physician, but we highly recommend that you talk to your dentist, as well as your doctor, if you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea. Common signs of sleep apnea include:
Sleep apnea treatment may depend on the severity of the condition. If you suffer from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, our dentist may recommend an oral appliance. The oral appliance works to treat obstructive sleep apnea by fitting over your teeth and keeping your airway open while you sleep. It can work by preventing the tongue from blocking the air passage or by holding your jaw in a position that prevents airway blockages during sleep. For more information on sleep apnea treatment, we welcome you to call or visit our dental practice today. We are committed to helping you improve your health!