Sleep apnea is a health condition that involves the interruption of your normal breathing pattern while you’re sleeping. It is common for people who snore to have sleep apnea, but not every snorer also has sleep apnea. If you have the condition, you should have it examined by your doctor, because there are simple ways to help restore healthy breathing while you sleep. Below, we take a closer look at the condition and explain how your dentist can help with your sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea and Your Dentist
Before we explain how your dentist and doctor can help with your sleep apnea, let’s take a closer look at the condition. There are two main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two forms, and it is the result of blocked airflow during sleep. It typically occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your airway collapses while you sleep. It is often brought upon by certain health conditions, including obesity.
- Central Sleep Apnea – This is a rarer form of the condition, and it is caused by an issue with how your brain signals your body to complete the breathing process. Your airway is not blocked, but instead, the brain fails to send a signal for the muscles to breathe. This is commonly caused by more serious health conditions, like heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections or a stroke.
Sleep apnea is more common among men, especially those who are over 40, overweight, those who have large tonsils, a small jaw, a large tongue or those with a history of sleep apnea or allergies. Left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to other health issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure and diabetes.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Treating sleep apnea may involve just a few small lifestyle changes, or it more be a more involved process, but oftentimes it can be successfully treated. For some people, simply adjusting their sleeping position so they are not on their back can be all the change they need. For others, more hands-on treatment may be needed. Some of those treatment options include:
- CPAP Machine – A continuous positive air pressure machine helps to improve your breathing while you sleep by providing air and air pressure through the nasal passages.
- Oral Devices – Your dentist may be able to provide you with an oral device that can shift or support your jaw in such a way that your breathing patterns improve.
- Surgery – Some patients find relief from sleep apnea with upper airway surgery when other methods fail to rectify the issue. In many cases, the operation to address the airway can be performed on a minimally invasive basis.
If you have sleep apnea, be sure to bring it up to your doctor or dentist at your next appointment to help learn about the best way to treat your individual case. For more information, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.
Leave a Reply