Loud snoring and irregular breathing with sudden starts and stops are both typical characteristics of sleep apnea. People are often unaware that they have this condition until someone complains about their snoring. While this can be embarrassing and it is tempting to make light of it, untreated sleep apnea can have detrimental effects on health - both physical and emotional. Let our team at Southern Family Dental Care assist you in navigating and treating this disorder.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of the disorder, affecting between 2-9% of adults in the United States, with many more cases believed to be undiagnosed. OSA occurs when the muscles supporting the soft tissues in the mouth, such as the tongue and soft palate, relax. This results in the partial or complete closure of the upper airway during sleep. The cessation of breathing due to this closure can happen hundreds of times a night.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The symptoms of OSA include excessive daytime sleepiness, waking with a dry mouth, sore throat, or morning headaches. The longer-term consequences include other health risks such as depression, high blood pressure, stroke, and many other ailments.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is more common in men than women, although after menopause the risk increases in women. Though it can occur at any age, middle age is a risk factor as is being overweight. You also have a greater risk of sleep apnea if a family member has been diagnosed with the disorder. Oral health problems, including jaw disorders, mouth breathing, and teeth grinding (bruxism) are all contributing factors to sleep apnea.
Does Snoring Indicate Sleep Apnea?
If you snore, it does not necessarily mean you have sleep apnea. The most obvious sign will be how you feel during waking hours. If you feel overly tired, sleepy and irritable for no apparent reason, it could be that the quality of your sleep is being affected.
Making a recording while you sleep could be a useful indicator of whether your sleep is being disturbed by breathing difficulties. A simple phone app can note how frequent and loud your snoring is, as well as allow you to track if you stop breathing, gasp or make other unusual sounds. If it appears you do have sleep apnea, there are several treatment options to help manage your symptoms and treat the disorder.
How We Can Help You Manage Your Sleep Apnea
Did you know that dentists train in the management of snoring and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea? The standard treatment is currently Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP. For various reasons, many patients do not comply with or tolerate this option well.
Our professionals can help screen, diagnose, and provide a simple solution to your problem using treatment options such as an oral appliance. This is a custom-made device worn in the mouth during sleep, rather like an orthodontic retainer. The device helps to keep the airway open and unobstructed by supporting the jaw in a forward position. This prevents the airway from collapsing and enables you to breathe easier, aiding in a restful night's sleep.
People who suffer from sleep apnea have multiple treatment options from which to choose for relief. However, some solutions are more cost-effective than others. If you are looking for an affordable, effective, and highly beneficial solution there is no better choice than oral appliance therapy.
For more information about sleep apnea or to find out how we can help you manage your symptoms, get in touch with us, Southern Family Dental Care. Call our office at 470-410-9774 or stop by to meet our team.