Can your dentist help you get a better night’s sleep?
A condition called sleep apnea, where breathing during sleep stops and starts repeatedly throughout the night, can rob you of a good night’s sleep. Snoring, gasping during sleep and/or being abnormally sleepy during the day are all signs that you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Other symptoms include morning headache, irritability, breathing pauses during sleep (observed by someone else), and waking with a dry mouth. It is important to know that not everyone with sleep apnea snores!
In obstructive sleep apnea, muscles and tissue in the back of the throat relax leading to a narrowing or blocking of the airway as you breath in, resulting in a drop in blood oxygen levels. The brain detects this drop and tells the body to take a full breath, which typically takes the form of a snort, gasp or choke. This can happen 30 times per hour, preventing the sleeper from reaching the deep sleep phases. There are two other types of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea where the brain doesn’t send proper signals to muscles in charge of breathing and complex sleep apnea syndrome, a combo of the above two.
Other than the obvious fatigue issues sleep apnea causes, it also has a role in high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and complications with surgery and medications and more. Doctors may diagnose it or they may refer patients to a sleep disorder center. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor may be recommended to rule out a blockage. Treatment options include a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, lifestyle changes, surgery, or oral appliances.
Oral appliances, if appropriate for your type and cause of sleep apnea, can be an effective treatment option. The appliance we use is a mandibular repositioning mouthpiece that covers the upper and lower teeth. This keeps the throat open by bringing the jaw and tongue forward to keep the airway from narrowing or closing. They are custom fit and less bulky and noisy than CPAP devices.
We would be happy to discuss options with you. Schedule an appointment today for a healthier and more energetic tomorrow!
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