Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that tends to go undiagnosed for many folks. Fortunately, as more people become aware of the symptoms and signs of sleep apnea through public awareness and patient education campaigns, diagnosis and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is becoming more commonplace than in years past. Our dentist, Dr. Dovgan, offers sleep apnea appliances as a non-invasive and comfortable form of treatment.
Apnea involves the cessation of breath. During sleep, those with OSA experience airway obstruction, which causes them to stop breathing for short increments of time. To reinitiate breathing, the brain will send signals to wake the sleeper slightly. The cycle of apnea and wakefulness can take a toll on a patient’s health and wellbeing because it impedes one’s ability to truly rest.
Sleep Apnea and Your Health
When sleep apnea goes untreated, it can have far-reaching effects on every facet of a person’s health. For instance, sleep apnea has been linked to cardiovascular disorder, mental health problems, stroke, and hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood).
The reason sleep apnea affects the entire body is because it causes sleep deprivation, affects the natural rhythm of air intake, and disrupts the body’s ability to rest and rejuvenate tissues during sleep.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
OSA produces symptoms and signs that may be noticed by a sleeper or his or her bed partner. In many instances, OSA causes a patient to gasp for air during sleep or snore loudly. When waking, people with sleep apnea tend to experience dry mouth, headaches, and grogginess. Fatigue and malaise are common, too – even after a person has what they think is a full night’s sleep. Sleep apnea can cause memory loss and depression as well as raised blood pressure.
How Sleep Apnea Appliances Work
In the past, obstructive medical equipment or invasive surgeries were used to treat OSA. For instance, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy was used during sleep to keep airways open by emitting a constant stream of air. While this was effective, the bulky and loud machinery affected patients’ abilities to sleep comfortably.
To help promote comfort, our dentist may recommend the use of a custom oral appliance. This appliance is made from soft materials and is worn in the mouth during sleep. By slightly repositioning the lower mandible (jaw) forward, the appliance can prevent soft oral tissues from collapsing into airways during sleep.
To learn more about sleep apnea and your treatment options, call our office to reserve a consultation.