What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which individuals temporarily stop breathing in their sleep. Derived from the Greek apnea (“without breath”), sleep apnea can be very unsettling for sufferers and can lead to more serious health problems when left untreated. At Signature Smiles, our experienced dentists are highly trained in sleep apnea care. You can rest assured we will treat your sleep apnea to the best of our ability with the help of customized oral appliances.
- Sleep Apnea Symptoms
- Sleep Apnea Causes
- Types of Sleep Apnea
- Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
- Sleep Apnea Treatment
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The most telling signs of sleep apnea include:
- Gasping for air or choking during sleep
- Excessively loud snoring
- Frequently waking up during the night
Frequently, loud snoring or gasping noises are first noticed by another person (i.e., someone with whom you share a bed). If you suspect you have sleep apnea but live alone, you can try recording yourself as you sleep to identify abnormal noises or long silent periods.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea is more common in men over the age of forty, people of all ages can develop this condition. Other correlations include tobacco use, high blood pressure, and obesity. Also note that sleep apnea sometimes runs in families.
What Are the Different Types of Sleep Apnea?
Medical professionals recognize three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by overly-relaxed muscles that narrow the back of the throat and breathing passage
- Central sleep apnea (CSA), which occurs when the throat’s communication with the brain is interrupted, causing disruptions in breathing during sleep
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, a combination of both of the above
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
The first step in diagnosing sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep study. These studies are designed to track your breathing patterns, oxygen levels, and brain activity. Sleep studies are available as in-home procedures or in a professional sleep center.
What Does Sleep Apnea Treatment Involve?
While there are a few different treatments for sleep apnea that have been proven effective, dental professionals can use oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea. These appliances, an example of advanced dentistry, are custom-made to help keep the back of the throat open during sleep, facilitating more consistent airflow. They reposition the tongue and jaw where needed and are typically much easier to use than alternative remedies, such as the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Patients often find oral devices less invasive and even more effective in keeping their airways open.
At Signature Smiles, we offer a wide variety of treatments, including the management of sleep apnea. If you have further questions about this serious disorder, feel free to schedule an appointment.