Sleep Apnea: All You Should Know
Do you frequently experience shortages of breath for brief periods in your sleep, and do you also snore loudly? Both of these conditions, when accompanied by extreme tiredness during the day, are an indication of sleep apnea disorder. The word ‘apnea’ is Greek, which stands for ‘without breath’.Because sleep apnea can potentially affect other aspects of your life, it’s essential to pay serious attention to its symptoms. You should consider visiting a sleep apnea dentist or physician as soon as possible for sleep apnea treatment.
An Overview of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a general, treatable sleep disorder, quite prevalent in the United States. Many people suffering from the ailment aren't aware they even have it.
The researchers at the American Association for Respiratory Care believe that around 10 million Americans suffer from non-diagnosed sleep apnea.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects over 18 million adults in the United States. The organization also approximates that about 2 to 3 percent of children experience sleep apnea.
A study concludes that around 30 million adults in the U.S. suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Sleep apnea can affect an individual's regular physical and mental performance, consequently impacting the long-term health of the individual. It can even be fatal in certain cases if left untreated.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is an ailment that causes you to stop breathing, or have faint breathing, while you sleep. This involuntary breathing disorder continues for anywhere between some seconds to a minute and can happen 30 or more times per hour.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may not realize that you've ceased breathing during the night, but may experience waking up choking or gasping for air. This common disorder leads to one or several gaps in your breath or causes light breathing, forcing you out of your intense sleep and into a shallow sleep, thus affecting your overall sleep quality.
Sleep apnea can take place due to the repeated blockage of the upper airway during sleep, which decreases or completely ceases airflow. This is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If the brain omits to send the signals required to breathe, the condition is known as central sleep apnea (CSA). Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea has the symptoms common to both OSA and CSA.
The foremost step in treating sleep apnea is to get the right diagnosis for it. To get the best sleep apnea treatment near you, you should look for a good sleep apnea dentist. Among the most common sleep apnea treatments is the use of a dental guard.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
Complications associated with sleep apnea include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Increased risk of accidents
- Increased risk of cardiovascular problems
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Liver disease
- Type II diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Poor psychological conditions
- Brain damage
- Memory problems
What Does Your Dentist Look for When Diagnosing Sleep Apnea?
You may be curious of why your dentist gets concerned about sleep apnea and the chances that you might experience it. This is because sleep apnea affects oral health. Here are a few general symptoms dentists look for when diagnosing sleep apnea:
Jaw Pain- Studies show that jaw pain due to TMJ is a direct outcome of sleep apnea. When you discontinue breathing during sleep, your jaw reacts by clenching itself, which causes jaw pain.
Worn-Down Teeth- Bruxism or teeth grinding is another consequence of sleep apnea, and this causes your teeth to become worn-down.
Broken Teeth- In the absence of treatment of TMJ for a considerable period of time, your jaw clenching can cause your teeth to break.
If these problems are detected in your mouth, your dentist might suspect you to be suffering from sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
After getting diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will evaluate the surgical and non-surgical treatment options. Non-surgical treatments involve medications, behavioral changes, dental devices, and application of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Medication – Nasal airway blockage can be the cause of sleep apnea, which is regulated by nasal steroid sprays. Treatment for hypothyroidism helps to control sleep apnea related to a thyroid condition.
Behavioral Changes – Behavioral and lifestyle changes may often prove to be a great solution to a sleep apnea condition. The best solution is to control your weight and maintain proper sleeping positions that minimize snoring.
Dental Appliances – Sleep apnea can be tackled with dental appliances. These dental appliances include custom fit sleep apnea mouth guards, designed by experts to minimize the effects of sleep apnea.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – This treatment involves the use of specialized machines that make use of air pressure to ensure the soft palate doesn't sag during sleep. A face mask is used to deliver the gentle air pressure to the patient when breathing to keep the airway open and prevent sleep apnea.