Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that has the potential of becoming life-threatening for some individuals.
Individuals who suffer from this disorder will typically stop breathing for a few seconds. The person wakes up in an attempt to resume their regular breathing pattern. As a result, the person’s quality of sleep is poor.
Different types of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea comes in two major categories:
- Obstructive apnea. Known as the more common type of apnea, this form involves the muscles involved in breathing. Obstructive apnea occurs when the throat muscles become too relaxed. This forces your airways to collapse. As a result, the air from your throat and mouth have difficulty going through your airways and into your lungs.
- Central apnea. This involves your brain. If you suffer from central apnea, the mechanisms in your brain that control your breathing are affected.
Signs and symptoms of apnea
The following are a few indications that you may have sleep apnea. Keep in mind that these indications are also similar to people who snore or have other medical conditions. A visit to a sleep doctor can quickly determine if you have apnea or another type of disorder.
- Loud snoring typically occurs, especially for people who suffer from the obstructive type of sleep apnea. Because this happens while you sleep, it is your relative, friend or roommate who may witness and verify that this occurs.
- Gasping for air or choking.
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth.
- Experiencing headaches in the morning.
- Tooth grinding while you sleep.
- Periods of insomnia or having difficulty sleeping for the entire evening.
- Sleepiness during the day.
- Having problems staying focused.
- Irritability and other emotional effects.
Dental treatment options
Once you have been diagnosed with apnea, your dentist will need to work with your sleep doctor to devise a treatment. Once you have been diagnosed with apnea, your dentist will need to work with your sleep doctor to devise a treatment. Courses of treatment can vary depending on the results of your examination and your medical history.
For milder cases of sleep apnea, your dentist and sleep doctor may advise you to sleep on your side, lose weight and stop smoking. You may need to use dental fixtures to keep your tongue and lower jaw at a certain position that still allows you to breathe normally when you sleep.
With more serious cases of sleep apnea, you may need to use what is known as a continuous positive airway pressure system. Otherwise known as the CPAP, the nose and mouth mask will deliver a specific pressure of air. If nothing else works, you may be advised to undergo surgery.