What is Sleep Apnea?
It is estimated that sleep apnea affects over 22 million Americans. It is also estimated that a significant number of cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have devastating effects. Treatment is essential. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, Advanced Dental Associates can help.
What Makes Sleep Apnea So Dangerous?
When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing while you sleep. In most cases, this occurs because your tongue or other soft tissues fall into the airway, blocking it. With sleep apnea, this doesn’t happen just once. It can occur numerous times during the course of the night. Every time your airway becomes blocked, your brain has to wake your body up so that you can begin breathing again. These episodes, called apneic events, disrupt your sleep, even though you most likely don’t know it.
The constant disruptions in your sleep leave you feeling incredibly exhausted. That’s not all though. Untreated sleep apnea can have serious health consequences. The lack of oxygen can result in low blood-oxygen levels — your risk for health concerns such as heart disease and diabetes increase. You are also at a much greater risk of suffering from depression.
Who Gets Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, adults and children alike. There are some individuals who are at an increased risk, however. One of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea, is being overweight or obese. Other risk factors include your sex, your age, having large tonsils, having a small lower jaw, or drinking a large amount of alcohol, particularly at bedtime.
How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?
There are a few indications that can point toward sleep apnea. These include feeling excessively tired, waking up with a headache, having a sore throat when you wake up, falling asleep during the day, or feeling irritable. The only way to know for sure that you have sleep apnea though is with a sleep study. This is a test that is generally performed at a clinic, although modified sleep tests can be done at home. The test measures different things, including your breathing, your blood pressure, and muscle movements. All of this information is recorded and then read by a certified sleep specialist. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can be recommended.
How Can a Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?
There are many treatments for sleep apnea. For mild cases, lifestyle changes such as weight loss or quitting alcohol can help. One of the most commonly recommended treatments is a C-PAP machine. However, what can we do for you?
Another common treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea is called an oral appliance. This is a device that you wear while you sleep. The goal of the treatment is to hold your lower jaw forward. In doing so, this keeps the soft tissues in your mouth from falling into your airway and blocking it.
In cases of severe sleep apnea, oral surgery may be necessary. Surgical procedures include those to move the jaw forward, advance the hyoid bone, or remove excess tissue. If you have found all other solutions for sleep apnea unsuccessful, we can help to determine oral surgery is a good option.
If you suspect that you might have sleep apnea, it is very important to have the appropriate testing done as soon as possible. For more information on how we can help treat sleep apnea, call Advanced Dental Associates at (210) 714-5589 today.