What is sleep apnea and how can my dentist help?

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It can cause numerous health problems if left untreated. Fortunately, there are therapies and treatments available.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder caused by a repeated interruption of at least ten seconds of a person’s breathing during their sleep. This pause in breathing deprives the body and brain of oxygen and causes fragmented sleep.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when throat muscles relax and the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow.

Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

  • Chronic, loud and ongoing snoring
  • Breathing cessation during sleep
  • Waking suddenly with shortness of breath
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat
  • Persistent sleepiness during the day
  • Headaches in the morning upon waking
  • Waking frequently throughout the night
  • Difficulty remembering and concentrating during the day
  • Depression or mood changes

What are some common causes of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. But there certain factors that can increase your risk of sleep apnea, such as:

  • Excess weight
  • A thick neck circumference
  • A narrowed airway
  • Family history
  • Smoking, alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Nasal congestion

What are the risk factors of untreated sleep apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause problems with memory, reaction time and concentration. The combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation can increase the risk for hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. There can also be an increased risk for accidents (at work and while driving) during the day due to tiredness.

How can my dentist treat sleep apnea?

Optisleep for sleep apneaJR Dental now offers OPTISLEEP, a custom-designed oral appliance prescribed to treat snoring as well as mild to moderate sleep apnea. This two-piece appliance is designed to keep the upper airway open while the wearer sleeps. The lower part of the jaw is moved forward in a comfortable way so that the tissue at the back of the throat relaxes and prevents the tongue’s base from collapsing and blocking the airway.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or think you might have sleep apnea, let us help! Make an appointment today or call us at (904) 786-5850.

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