What is sleep apnea and should I be concerned?
Sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal breathing pauses (apneas) or shallow breathing during sleep. These apneas can happen because of a physical blockage to airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both. This can be detrimental as it causes issues that prevent you from being able to get deep sleep that is needed.
What can cause sleep apnea to occur?
When you fall into a deep sleep, your tongue, soft palate, and throat tissues relax. For those with sleep apnea, these tissues over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of the throat and block your airway. When the flow of oxygen stops, the brain forces you to wake up to consciously resume breathing. These mini-episodes can occur hundreds of times a night.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
There are several symptoms of sleep apnea including trouble focusing, heavy snoring, headaches and migraines, fatigue, restless sleep, depression, irritability, and TMJ symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms you should undergo an assessment by a medical professional to receive a proper diagnosis.
Suppose your dentist is concerned that you may be experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. In that case, you may be asked to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to evaluate for sleep apnea objectively.
Are there any treatment options for those affected by sleep apnea?
Many people do not get enough sleep. A prolonged lack of sleep can lead to some major health problems like diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity. A major cause of poor sleep is sleep apnea, which is when breathing stops and starts during sleep.
Once you've been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists may be able to help you achieve a better night’s sleep with a variety of treatment options.
Oral appliances can help by positioning your lower jaw further forward to pull your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate, to open your airway. Lifestyle solutions, such as weight loss, exercise, and side sleeping can also help you achieve better breathing and more restful sleep. Your dentist can help you find the right treatment option for you.
What is the importance of managing sleep apnea symptoms?
Sleep apnea prevents you from falling into the restorative deep sleep you need to recharge your brain and body. This can potentially have long-term repercussions and possibly shorten your life.
By treating sleep apnea, your dentist can help you protect your overall health and well-being. Our endodontists may be able to point you in the direction of a dental clinic that can help.