Sleep apnea is a chronic condition in which your breathing is either restricted or interrupted on a regular basis while you sleep. Not only does this troubling disorder hinder your ability to get quality sleep at night, but it can also lead to more serious health risks including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, irregular heartbeat, and stroke. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from sleep apnea have not been diagnosed with the condition, because it only happens during sleep. If you’re not sure whether or not you might be dealing with sleep apnea, here are some of the most common symptoms to look for:
- Waking up in the middle of the night feeling like you’re choking, or out of breath
- Snoring (you might have to ask your spouse, roommate or family members about this)
- Feeling excessively sleepy during the day
- Frequently dozing off in the afternoon
- Poor concentration or difficulty paying attention
Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is generally categorized into one of three types: Central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, or mixed. Central sleep apnea occurs as a result of improper signals being sent from your brain to the muscles that control your breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea, on the other hand, is when your airways are being blocked or obstructed; causing labored or interrupted breathing while you sleep. As you enter into a deep sleep, the muscles in the back of your throat begin to relax, and your tongue and surrounding tissues can sometimes “fold” or “clump” into your airways, causing a blockage. This leaves very little room for air to get through, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and interrupted sleep. This is one of the reasons why people who suffer from sleep apnea often wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air – their body is basically “alerting” them to the fact that they’re running low on oxygen. While obstructive sleep apnea is often caused by this type of blockage, it can also be the result of a large overbite or enlarged tonsils.
How Your Dentist Can Treat Sleep Apnea
At West Chester Dental Group, we have extensive experience in treating the obstructive form of sleep apnea. When you visit us for sleep apnea treatment, your dentist will conduct a comprehensive dental examination and ask you questions about your experiences and symptoms in order to arrive at the best treatment option.
Many times, obstructive sleep apnea can be treated using a custom oral device that is designed to comfortably hold your tongue and jaw in the proper position as you sleep, so that your airways remain open and unrestricted. Wearing this simple yet effective dental appliance at night is so much better than having to stay connected to an uncomfortable (and often loud) CPAP machine just to get some sleep. Studies have shown that using a dental appliance works for roughly 75% of obstructive sleep apnea cases, so it is highly possible that your sleep problems can be effectively treated using this easy, non-surgical method.
If you’re tired of struggling with the symptoms and aggravation of sleep apnea, contact West Chester Dental Group to set up an appointment. You might just be a phone call away from getting better and more restful sleep!