Did you ever think your dentist could help with your sleep disorder? We can. One of the most common and troubling sleep disorders out there is obstructive sleep apnea, wherein a patient stops breathing during the night. Some patients can be helped with an oral appliance to prevent episodes of apnea during the night.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways close while you are sleeping. It is a structural issue in your body that can lead to very serious consequences if left untreated such as weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and more. These structural issues may develop due to unusually large tonsils, narrow airways, or even weight gain that causes thickness in the neck.
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms below, check-in with your dentist and doctor about the possibility of obstructive sleep apnea and what solutions may exist for you.
Periods Where You Stop Breathing During Sleep
This is a hard sign to spot yourself, but a partner, family member, or particularly a sleep study can help identify these episodes. If you stop breathing in the middle of the night, there is likely a period of silence. This may be followed by very loud snoring or choking sounds.
While this one may seem obvious, sleep disturbances play a large role in signaling sleep apnea. You may have trouble falling or staying asleep, along with severe tiredness during the day. Sleep likely never feels restful—and that’s because it’s not! Your body is fighting for oxygen the entire time you are resting.
Lack of oxygen and sleep can contribute to physical signs that should clue you into sleep apnea. These can include headaches, especially upon waking, and swelling in the legs.
Mental Side Effects
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your mental state. When it is prolonged and severe such as in sleep apnea, your symptoms can be disruptive. You may experience a short-temper, trouble remembering things, and inability to concentrate.
Some people may even experience depression and a loss of interest in things they enjoyed.
How Can the Dentist Help?
In treating obstructive sleep apnea, the goal is always to keep the airways open. That’s why CPAP machines are frequently used, as they maintain positive pressure that prop opens the airways.
Dentists can offer treatment via sleep appliances. Worn while sleeping, these retainer-like fixtures offer a great alternative to a full CPAP mask for the right cases. They fit between the top and bottom teeth and push the bottom teeth forward to keep your throat open. Air can easily flow from your nose through your open airway without your jaw or tongue obstructing it.
At Advanced Prosthodontics, we believe a good night’s sleep is just as important as a healthy smile. Talk about possible obstructive sleep apnea solutions with Dr. Hersh at your next visit. Find out if an oral appliance might be right for your sleep disorder treatment. Call for an appointment now at (610) 865-4222.