According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 18 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. This potentially serious sleep disorder is identified when your breathing stops and starts periodically throughout the course of the night. These sleep disruptions can cause snoring and cause you to wake up in order to breathe. Those with sleep apnea describe frequent exhaustion because it affects their ability to have a good night’s sleep. Patients with sleep apnea are sometimes surprised to learn that they can receive treatment at their dentist’s office! Learn more about how to identify sleep apnea and how your dentist can help relieve our symptoms.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that disrupts breathing patterns while you’re asleep, causing breathing to repeatedly start and stop. It can cause patients to snore, lose sleep, awake with dry mouth, or gasp for air during the night.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two varieties of sleep apnea: Obstructive and Central. While both cause your body to respond as if a sleep interruption has occurred, they have very different origins.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive is the most common form of sleep apnea. The airway’s soft tissue collapses, resulting in interruptions in breathing (aka “apneas”). The soft tissue collapse prevents air and oxygen from reaching the lungs.
- Central Sleep Apnea. Central sleep apnea is less common and requires different treatments than obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the brain stops sending “breathe signals” to the body when you’re asleep. The difference between central and obstructive is the soft tissue in the back of the throat. With central sleep apnea, it does not close, causing a sleep disruption. However, the body still responds as if a disruption has occurred.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome. This sleep apnea is a combination of the two aforementioned varieties. It occurs when a patient is diagnosed with both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea and Your Health
Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect a good night’s sleep. It can also contribute to larger health issues, such as blood pressure, heart disease, and mood disorders.
- Diabetes. Sleep apnea can increase the potential for your body to develop insulin resistance and therefore type 2 diabetes.
- High Blood Pressure. The sudden spike in oxygen levels can increase your blood pressure, straining your cardiovascular system.
- Metabolic Syndrome. Along with high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, the potential for high blood sugar can cause metabolic syndrome. Along with weight gain comes a higher chance of heart disease.
- Liver Problems. Those with sleep apnea are more likely to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Dental Sleep Medicine – Oral Appliance Therapy
Certain dentists, such as Oak Family Dental, can practice dental sleep medicine. This area of study focuses on treating symptoms such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with oral appliances. Oak Family Dental uses oral appliance therapy, which is designed to keep a patient’s airways open, to treat sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Depending on the patient’s condition, a dentist will likely prescribe an oral appliance called Mandibular Repositioning Device.
This device is designed to reposition your lower jaw forward and downward. This aligns your jaw in such a way that it opens your airway while you sleep. Mandibular repositioning devices are the most prescribed oral appliances for sleep apnea.
Your Oak Family Dental dentists will perform an evaluation of your sleep apnea and determine which appliance is right for your symptoms.
Contact the Oak Family Dental Team in Metairie, LA
Treating your sleep apnea doesn't have to wait any longer, and booking an appointment is easy! The professionals at Oak Family Dental have combined decades of experience treating patients with sleep apnea with Mandibular Repositioning Devices and other Sleep Apnea Treatments. You can speak to our friendly team by calling (504) 834-6410 or simply scheduling online.