Restful sleep is essential for a healthy mind and body. Without restful sleep, our bodies can't repair and recuperate, and there can be several negative impacts on our wellness and quality of life. You might consider a sleep apnea screening and treatment if you snore, choke, or gasp during sleep. Our dentists at Oak Family Dental work closely with trained sleep physicians in the area to provide sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment. You deserve a good night's rest, and we are here to help you get it!
What Is Sleep Apnea and Who Can Have It?
Sleep apnea is a severe sleep-breathing disorder when a person repeatedly stops and starts breathing. Anyone can have sleep apnea, even children. The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) estimates that 22 million adults in the United States have sleep apnea, and 80 percent of Americans have undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea. These staggering figures prove sleep disorders like sleep apnea are a significant public health concern. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway.
What Are the Symptoms of OSA?
OSA has many signs and symptoms, but the only way to determine if you have this condition is to get a sleep study and speak to a doctor. Your dentist can arrange the sleep study and offer treatment options based on your needs.
Common signs and symptoms of OSA are:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping or choking
- Dry mouth
- Insomnia (difficulty staying asleep)
- Hypersomnia (daytime sleepiness)
- Episodes of interrupted or stopped breathing during sleep
- Strange dreams
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Difficulty concentrating
- Bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching)
Loud snoring can indicate a severe problem, but just because someone snores doesn't mean they have sleep apnea. If you or a sleeping partner notices any of the above signs, please call us to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists at Oak Family Dental.
What Are the Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax, narrowing the airway and obstructing your ability to breathe properly. These muscles support the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, tongue, and side walls of the throat. Having allergies, a deviated septum, or hypothyroidism can also lead to OSA.
When you cannot get enough air, the oxygen levels in the blood lower, and your brain sends signals to wake up the body, thus reopening the airway. This awakening is usually so brief most people can't remember it. It can also make people choke, snort, or gasp. The ASAA states that this pattern can repeat five to 30 times or more an hour, impairing your ability to have more restful, deep sleep.
What Are the Risk Factors of OSA?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, including children. However, certain factors can increase the risk of having OSA:
Excess weight – Excess weight, especially around the upper airway, can obstruct breathing.
Neck circumference – Those with thicker necks may have narrower airways.
Anatomical obstructions – Some people have naturally narrow throats, enlarged adenoids, enlarged tonsils, or excess soft tissues in the mouth and throat––all of which can block the airway.
Age – Sleep apnea often occurs in older adults.
Family history – Family members with sleep apnea can increase your risk too.
Use of sedatives, alcohol, or tranquilizers – Any substance that relaxes the muscles in the throat can worsen OSA.
Smoking – Smokers are three times more likely to have OSA than non-smokers. Smoking also increases fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway.
Nasal congestion – You may have problems breathing through your nose due to anatomical issues or allergies, making you more likely to have OSA.
Medical conditions – Certain conditions can increase your risk of OSA, such as high blood pressure, hormonal disorders, chronic lung diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and congestive heart failure.
Complications of Having Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can affect your overall health. Complications of having sleep apnea can include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems, like stroke and abnormal heartbeats
- Daytime fatigue
- Irritability or mood swings
- Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Complications with medications and surgery
- Liver problems
- Sleep-deprived partners
If you struggle with sleep apnea or think you have this condition, don't wait until it worsens. Contact Oak Family Dental, and we'll set up a sleep study and help you receive effective treatment.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Metairie, LA
At Oak Family Dental, we offer at-home sleep tests so patients can get screened for sleep apnea in the comfort of their own homes instead of a hospital or sleep center. Once we collect the data, we send it to a certified sleep physician who interprets the sleep study results. Based on the doctor's diagnosis and treatment recommendations, our team at Oak Family Dental can help you get the best treatment to improve your symptoms and overall health.
Some common sleep apnea treatments:
- A custom-made dental appliance – We create custom dental appliances to gently open your airway so you can breathe during sleep.
- Orthodontics – Orthodontics can improve your bite and open or expand the space in your mouth, making it easier to breathe.
- Surgery – We may recommend surgery to correct an anatomical issue in the mouth, throat, or sinuses. Common surgeries include removing enlarged tonsils, correcting deviated septums, and shrinking or removing enlarged adenoids.
Don't hesitate to get in touch with us today to schedule an evaluation with our Metairie dentists. We will work with you on diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan to restore your sleep and wellness.