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Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea written on chalkboard

Sleep apnea is a common condition that affects roughly 22 million Americans.  Sleep apnea affects your breathing while you sleep.  It causes an individual to stop or struggle to breathe naturally during slumber, resulting in lower quality sleep, fatigue, and other unpleasant symptoms.  It affects both children and adults.  Additionally, sleep apnea can affect the partners of those living with it, disrupting their rest on an almost nightly basis.

If you believe you might have sleep apnea, connect with Beautiful Smiles today for a consultation.

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Types of Sleep Apnea

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) - This is the most common kind of sleep apnea, and occurs when the muscles in your throat relax and block your airways while you sleep.  This kind of sleep apnea is most often characterized by snoring.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) - Less common than OSA, this kind of sleep apnea results when your brain fails to send the correct signals to the muscles that control your breathing.  It often occurs as the result of heart failure or stroke.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome - This condition occurs when sleep apnea involves both the OSA and CSA type of apnea.  It’s both neurological and physical.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be caused by a variety of different factors.  These causes can range from neurological issues to genetic factors, or even physical contributors like weight or malformed sinuses.

Common causes include:

  • Nasal or sinus congestion
  • Weak muscles in the neck or throat
  • Colds and allergies
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid conditions

Some factors can be more serious.  If you believe you might be struggling with sleep apnea, speak to your provider and get a professional diagnosis.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms overlap.  Multiple overlapping symptoms may make determining the kind of apnea you have troublesome which is why it’s important for you to get a professional’s opinion.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud, persistent snoring
  • Paused breathing during sleep
  • Gasping for breath while sleeping
  • Morning dry mouth
  • Headaches after waking
  • Insomnia
  • Daily fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus

This list isn’t all-inclusive, but if you have one or a combination of these symptoms regularly, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor.

Who Is At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Certain people are more at risk than others for developing sleep apnea.  It can be a genetic issue, environmental, or lifestyle-related.

At-risk individuals include:

  • Smokers - Cigarettes are bad for your lung, mouth, and throat health and those who smoke are at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea.
  • Obesity - Being overweight can cause the physical narrowing of your airways, especially while laying down.
  • Drugs or alcohol - Anything that can cause your muscles to relax such as sedatives or a cocktail can cause an increased risk of sleep apnea.
  • Family history - If you have a relative with sleep apnea, you may be more prone to the condition than those without.
  • Anatomical features - Some people are simply born with physical characteristics that may make them more prone to sleep apnea such as the position of their jaws, neck, or tongue.

How Your Dentist Can Help With a Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

In many cases, your regular provider might recommend therapies such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), treatment for underlying medical problems, supplemental oxygen, and more.

Oftentimes, seeing a dentist or oral surgeon can be greatly beneficial to the treatment of sleep apnea.  Setting up an appointment to meet with your dentist can lead to a broader assortment of treatment options.  If you’re seeing a dental professional for sleep apnea, they may recommend a few different oral devices to help you find relief.

  • Mandibular advancement device - These oral appliances usually look like mouthguards and gently push your lower jaw forward.  This keeps the muscles that would normally collapse around your airways during sleep from doing so.  They come in a couple of different styles and your dentist can help you choose the one that’s right for you.
  • Tongue retaining device - While less common,  a tongue retaining appliance is better for a wider range of mouths, and holds the tongue forward instead of the jaw, working similarly to a mandibular device. 

Get Better Sleep and Wake Up With a Beautiful Smile

Dr. Moore has years of experience helping patients with more than just their teeth.  He has extensive experience helping individuals find relief from sleep apnea.  To start sleeping better and feeling better, make an appointment today.

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