What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that can be helped by wearing an appliance to help keep your airways open. At Dental Prosthodontics of Rochester we may be able to help if you have concerns about your condition, so get in touch with us to find out more.
Sleep Apnea Signs and Causes
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is more common than you might think. It occurs when someone's airways become blocked, either by the tongue or throat muscles. When this happens, breathing can be interrupted for 10 seconds or longer, which will wake them up during their sleep cycle and disrupt their night's rest.
Sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring, shortness of breath during the day, restless movements at night, excessive daytime sleepiness, and headaches. While some people are born with it as part of an inherited condition called OSAS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome), other sufferers develop it later in life due to swelling in the mouth or throat area after surgery or trauma to the head and neck region.
Causes of sleep apnea include obesity which restricts airflow through the windpipe when the jaw and neck muscles relax. A common feature of this condition is that it is not present when the sufferer is awake. Other risk factors include smoking, having an enlarged tongue or tonsils, drinking alcohol, and being male. If you have family members with sleep apnea this is also a higher risk. Some medical conditions are also related to sleep apnea, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and congestive heart failure.
What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?
Disrupted sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating. The long-term effects of sleep apnea include heart problems, high blood pressure, and depression.
How Can A Dentist Help?
There are several dental devices that can be used to treat sleep apnea: oral tongue stabilizers, mandibular advancement appliances, and upper airway surgeries. Oral tongue stabilizers are worn at night, and they keep the tongue in a forward position to prevent it from relaxing and falling back into the throat where it obstructs the airway.
Mandibular Advancement Appliances (MAA) are also worn at night. They pull the lower jaw forward, so it doesn't fall back in a way that blocks airflow when you sleep. They work by changing how your mouth is shaped at night. Dentists typically prescribe this type of appliance for patients who cannot tolerate wearing full-face masks or have not been formally diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Upper airway surgery is another, less common option for sleep apnea. The surgery is the most invasive and there's a chance that complications may occur afterward. Additionally, it can take a long time to recover from this surgery. Treatment for sleep apnea often requires a multidisciplinary approach. If you feel you may have the disorder and would like to speak to a dentist about possible solutions, or you have been diagnosed with it but cannot tolerate the standard treatment with CPAP, do get in touch.
For further information about sleep apnea and how it may be affecting you, contact our experts at Dental Prosthodontics of Rochester and schedule an appointment. Call us at (585) 471-5689.