Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that afflicts millions of people across the United States. Unfortunately, if often remains undiagnosed and untreated — and it can thus lead to a slew of overall health problems. On this page, we discuss what sleep apnea is, how you can recognize its warning signs, and how the team at Abington Family Dental may be able to help you find relief. The treatment we offer is simple and comfortable, and it is effective for most patients.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to temporarily stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. These episodes, called apneas, may occur just a handful of times each hour, or they might happen hundreds of times. There are a few types of sleep apnea, but obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common. In OSA, overrelaxed soft tissues in the mouth or throat are the cause of the disrupted breathing.
Sleep apnea is dangerous because it has been associated with a number of systemic health issues, including heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, and more. The exhaustion it causes can also greatly increase an individual’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
The following symptoms all indicate the possibility of sleep apnea:
Sleep apnea can affect anyone. However, certain groups are at a higher risk than others. Men, obese individuals, seniors, and people who smoke are all at an increased risk of suffering from OSA.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you should undergo a sleep test. During a sleep test, a machine will monitor you as you sleep and keep track of your movements, heartrate, breathing, and other vital statistics. After an expert analyzes the results of the test, you will know whether you are suffering from sleep apnea and how severe your condition is. Then, you can begin exploring your treatment options.
The most common treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine, which uses pressurized air to keep the airway open at night. CPAP therapy is certainly effective, but many patients find it uncomfortable and difficult to adapt to.
A custom-made oral sleep appliance from a dentist is often a viable alternative to CPAP. Such an appliance, which resembles a sports mouthguard, gently repositions the jaw at night, thus moving the tissues that were causing the obstructions and allowing for freer airflow. An oral appliance is much smaller, quieter, and more portable than a CPAP machine.
Would you like to find out if our team can help you conquer your sleep apnea with a custom oral appliance? Contact Abington Family Dental to learn more about this advanced service or to schedule your sleep apnea consultation.