Dental Procedure Pain: Get the Facts

Your Guide To Sleep Apnea

Sleep is essential to rest both your body and mind. However, there are many conditions that can affect your quality and amount of sleep. Sleep apnea is a common problem that affects many Americans. If you would like to know more about sleep apnea and how your dentist can help, keep reading.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when you randomly and repeatedly stop and start breathing. While there are many types of sleep apnea, many people have obstructive sleep apnea. With this type of apnea, your throat muscles and tongue relax, which can hinder the flow of air to your lungs. Less common, some patients have central sleep apnea, in which the brain sends irregular signals for breathing.

Even though sleep apnea often disturbs your sleep, you may not realize you have it until someone monitors your sleep. You may suddenly stop and start breathing, gasp for air, and snore loudly. If you don't have a partner or someone to monitor your breathing during sleep, consider a sleep clinic.

What Are the Complications of Sleep Apnea?

Because sleep apnea interferes with your quality of sleep, you may experience unpleasant symptoms while awake, including:

  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Headaches
  • Hypersomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

Unfortunately, the complications don't end there. Sudden changes in oxygen levels can put stress on your heart and arteries, increasing your risk of hypertension and heart disease. However, sleep apnea may even increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

How Can Your Dentist Help With Sleep Apnea?

Your dentist may be able to provide a simple solution if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Your dentist can custom-fit an oral appliance. You wear it at night, and it fits much like a retainer. The device prevents the jaw from falling. In turn, this stops the throat and tongue from collapsing, keeping the airway open.

An oral device can be a great alternative to CPAP machines. Plus, they are easy to pack for traveling and discreet. On top of that, they may be a good solution if you have a partner because they don't make noise like a CPAP machine.

If you believe you're struggling with sleep apnea, try talking with your dentist. They can help you identify signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. In many cases, they may even be able to provide oral devices as an alternative to bulky CPAP machines.

For more information on sleep apnea, contact a professional near you.