Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes breathing to stop momentarily during sleep. Though apnea usually makes breathing cease for only a few seconds at a time, this disorder can also stop airflow for a minute or longer. This cycle can occur hundreds of times on a usual night, making apnea sufferers feel unrested in the morning. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, make an appointment with your general dentist immediately.
Because sleep apnea makes people breathe irregularly, the condition often causes a number of symptoms. The most obvious signs of sleep apnea are choking and snoring. Though the person with apnea may momentarily wake up due to these symptoms, he or she is unlikely to recall these sleep disturbances in the morning; for this reason, it’s more common for a spouse or family member to notice symptoms. Morning sore throats are also common, since apnea sufferers spend much of their time at night trying to breathe with their mouths open. As with other sleep disorders, sleep apnea can cause people to feel lethargic, have difficulty concentrating at work, and experience mood alterations.
Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious medical conditions. As a result, treating the condition before it becomes problematic is important. Before correcting the disorder, your dentist will first need to diagnose the condition as being either obstructive, central, or mixed sleep apnea. Usually, mild to severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea can be treated effectively by a dentist. Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, masks are often used to treat sleep apnea, but some patients have difficulty with this kind of therapy. As a first line of treatment, the dentist will likely recommend a dental appliance, which is a retainer that repositions the jaw or tongue to prevent blockage of the airway and promote better breathing. Common sleep apnea appliances include the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP® 3) and the OASYS, KlearwayTM, and Herbst Telescopic Appliances. For serious cases of sleep apnea, a dentist may have the patient undergo oral surgery.
Sleep apnea can usually be treated with a high degree of success. To learn more about treatment options, contact The Smile Design Center of Baltimore. We offer effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea through dental appliances. Call us today at (443) 275-9821.