Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can seriously impact both the quality of your sleep and your overall health. There are a number of different dental appliances that can help to treat sleep apnea. Here, our Winnipeg dentists explain your options.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep condition characterized by abnormal pauses in your breathing (called apneas) and shallow breathing while a person sleeps. These apneas happen because of physical blockages of your airway, a lack of respiratory effort, or a combination of the two.
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 to sleep, your soft palate, throat tissues and tongue all relax. For people suffering from sleep apnea, their throat and soft apalte relax too much, causing them to collapse into the back of their trhaot and constructing 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.
While loud snoring is the best-known symptom of sleep apnea and can indicate a serious issue, not everyone with sleep apneas snores loudly. If you experience any of the above symptoms, regardless of your snoring, you should visit a medical professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis.
Once your issue has been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you get a better night’s rest with a number of treatment options. We will complete a full examination of your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw, and potentially take an x-ray of your airway, to determine the right appliance for your needs.
What sleep apnea devices or oral appliances can help?
Dental appliances may be able to help by lowering your jaw and pulling your tongue away from your throat in order to open your airways. These dental appliances are:
- Easy to care for
- Easy to insert and remove
- Comfortable to wear
- 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 may be unable to fall into a restorative and deep sleep, stopping you from recharging your brain. This may play a role in a number of different medical disorders and diseases, reducing your quality of life and longevity.
Complications can include a wide range of conditions from metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. You may also experience heart problems, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and resistance to insulin. Because of your daytime fatigue, you may be at an increased risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you improve and protect your overall health and wellbeing.