Quality sleep is essential for general wellness. While your body is in a deep state of rest, it heals and repairs itself. If your sleep cycle is interrupted for any reason, your overall health suffers. Individuals with sleep apnea can experience a variety of troubling symptoms, including chronic fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and more. At National Dental Hicksville, our team of sleep medicine specialists can diagnose and treat the condition so patients can improve their quality of life.
Exploring Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious condition, and it is defined by a lack of oxygen to the brain during sleep. This can be caused by a couple of different factors. Most commonly, the airway can become physically blocked by the soft tissues near the back of the throat. This is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. For some patients, the brain fails to send signals to the breathing muscles. This condition is known as central sleep apnea. Both types of sleep apnea can result in lengthy episodes of breathing cessation. In fact, some individuals stop breathing for as long as 90 seconds at a time! As you can imagine, this can have serious consequences on the body’s ability to function properly.
Common Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of sleep apnea can vary significantly from person to person. While some patients may be perfectly aware they are waking in the middle of the night, others do not realize it. Some individuals may only know there is a problem because their partner consistently notices loud snoring or frequent gasps for air. Less noticeable symptoms may include:
- A sore or dry throat upon waking
- Chronic headaches, especially in the mornings
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Irritability or mood changes
- Difficulty paying attention
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Many of our patients want to know if there is anything they can do to reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Because the risk factors are so varied, it really depends on the unique situation of the patient. For example, if sleep apnea is directly related to obesity, then losing weight can certainly reduce the harmful symptoms. Additionally, limiting the intake of alcoholic beverages can also improve sleep apnea, since these substances tend to relax the muscles near the airway. However, most often, sleep apnea is due to compounding factors, some of which may be genetic. For example, you may have an increased risk for sleep apnea if you:
- Are over the age of 40
- Are male
- Have a narrowed airway
- Have abnormally large tonsils or an enlarged tongue
- Have a large neck circumference
- Have immediate family members who suffer from sleep apnea
- Have a deviated septum or suffer from sinus problems
Sleep Apnea Treatment: Oral Appliance Therapy
From positional therapy to surgery, there are several techniques that are intended to help eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnea. One of the most common treatments is the use of a CPAP device. However, due to the bulkiness of the mask, many individuals find they are unable to wear it. One alternative treatment that is growing in popularity is a custom oral appliance. This small device is custom-made to fit comfortably over the upper teeth. It also gently shifts the lower jaw forward, which opens the airway for more effective oxygen intake. Millions of Americans have found relief from sleep apnea with the use of an oral appliance.>> Learn more about Oral appliance therapy
Learn More about Sleep Apnea
To find out if oral appliance therapy is right for you, schedule a consultation at National Dental Hicksville. You can call our office at (516) 208-4276 or contact us online.