Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can seriously impact your health. There are a variety of dental appliances that are available to help treat sleep apnea and, here, our Markham dentists explain your options.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) or shallow breathing while an individual sleeps. These can occur because of a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
What causes sleep apnea?
When drifting into deep sleep, your throat tissue, tongue and soft palate all relax. For those with sleep apnea, these relaxing tissues and soft palate collapse into the back of their throat, blocking their airways.
When the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen ceases, and as a result your brain forces you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. These episodes may happen hundreds of times a night, seriously disrupting your sleep.
How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
Symptoms of sleep apnea include heavy snoring, headaches and migraines upon waking, restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, problems focusing, irritability, depression and TMJ symptoms.
Though loud snoring is a notorious symptom and may indicate a potentially serious problem, not everyone who has sleep apnea will snore. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should visit a medical professional so you can receive a proper diagnosis.
Once your sleep apnea has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists will be able to help you get a better night's rest with a number of different treatment options depending on your needs. We will conduct a full examinations of your tongue, teeth, airway and jaw, and may even take an x-ray of your airways to determine the right appliance for your needs.
What sleep apnea devices or oral appliances can help?
Dental appliances can help by positioning your lower jaw further forward, effectively pulling your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate to open your airway. These dental appliances should be:
- Easy to insert and remove
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to care for
- Convenient for travel
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?
If you have sleep apnea, you will be unable to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that recharges your brain and body. This can play a roll in many medical disorders and diseases, and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications can include conditions like high blood sugar, metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of heart disease. You may also experience high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes as well as resistance to insulin. Because of your fatigue throughout the day, you may also be at a greater risk of workplace and motor vehicle accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.