We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep--but if you suffer from sleep apnea, that may seem like a pipe dream. Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or you’re at your wit's end with chronic snoring and fatigue still seeking a formal diagnosis, we would love to help you. At Pleasant Valley Dental, we’re happy to offer a simple, non-invasive solution for sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy—no CPAP required!
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea can often be treated by your dentist because it is the result of a collapsed airway that physically obstructs breathing. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the body to tell it to breathe, and mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the two.
Obstructive sleep apnea develops when the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse during sleep, preventing proper breathing. There are many factors that can contribute to the disease, including excessive weight around the neck, having a narrow airway, sinus problems, and the use of alcohol or sedatives. Even eating spicy foods can exacerbate the condition! Sleep apnea sufferers are predominantly male and your risk increases as you age.
Sleep apnea can often be hard to diagnose because symptoms are mostly present during sleep. The most common telltale sign of sleep apnea is chronic snoring. That is not to say that all snorers are suffering from sleep apnea, but it would be wise to know for sure if you’re one of them. Sleep apnea can also be accompanied by choking or gasping for air, interrupted sleep, nightmares, insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, frequent urination during the night, morning dry mouth, headaches, and TMJ dysfunction.
Sleep apnea may not seem like a big deal if the “only” symptom is snoring, but the truth is, there are many other mental and physical health problems that can and will develop if sleep apnea is left untreated. Aside from all the signs and symptoms listed above, sleep apnea can also contribute to the development of serious systemic health problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It makes sense when you think about it, as sleeping and breathing are essential activities for our bodies to function properly. If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you will develop lowered blood oxygen levels and the immune system will slowly deteriorate, becoming more compromised over time. Sleep apnea sufferers are also more likely to be involved in car accidents after falling asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, Pleasant Valley Dental can help!
Traditionally, the “gold standard” for sleep apnea treatment is therapy with a CPAP machine. However, many folks find CPAPs intolerable because they simply cannot sleep with a mask attached to their face. Can you blame them? That’s why dental professionals have created an alternative solution with oral appliance therapy.
Oral appliance therapy uses a custom-made oral device that’s worn like a mouthguard during sleep. The appliance gently shifts the lower jaw forward, effectively preventing the airway from collapsing and allowing you to sleep and breathe normally throughout the night. Oral appliances are custom-made just for you to fit comfortably in the mouth and suit your individual needs.
If you have any questions about sleep apnea, we would love to speak with you. Contact your Vernon dentists, Dr. Bicknell or Dr. Montian, at Pleasant Valley Dental today!