Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops. It has potentially seriously medical implications, and should always be treated. Dentistry is one of the most common ways to treat sleep apnea and excessive snoring.
Do you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea? The most common signs and symptoms are:
- Loud snoring
- Repeated episodes of breathing cessation or stoppage during sleep (this symptom is usually noticed and observed by a partner or family member)
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
- Waking up with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
- Waking up in the morning with a headache
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Hypersomnia (excessive daytime tiredness)
- Difficulty focusing or paying attention
Sleep apnea poses potentially-serious medical complications, including but not limited to:
- Severe daytime fatigue and difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure and increased risk for heart attack
- Increased risk of stroke
- Increased risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Potential complications with surgery or medications
- Liver problems
Sleep apnea is treatable, and it’s necessary that you visit us for an evaluation so that we can discuss the variety of treatment methods available. For some patients with milder cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes such as weight loss, smoking cessation, or treatment of nasal allergies may be sufficient for a drastic improvement.
Other common treatment options include:
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), which is an air pressure machine that delivers air through a mask over your nose while you are sleeping
- Other air pressure devices
- EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure), which are small valve-like devices placed over each nostril at bedtime. The valves increase the air pressure in your airway as you breathe, and help to keep it open.
- Oral appliance therapy (OAT) – a number of oral appliances are available, and you’ll need to visit us to determine which is the best fit for you.
- In more severe cases, surgery may be required to enlarge the airway, create or restructure the airway, reposition the jaw, or insert implants into the palate.
- Some other types of surgeries, such as weight loss surgery, nasal surgery, correction of a deviated septum, and tonsil/adenoid removal, may also have beneficial effects for patients with sleep apnea.
Many of our patients are amazed at the improvement in their overall quality of life, and that of their partner or loved ones, when they receive the proper care and treatment for their sleep apnea. o.