What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person pauses their breathing during sleep or takes shallow breaths all through the night. In the most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, the airway is blocked. As a result, the patient snores as he or she struggles to breathe.
Central sleep apnea, the less common form, is an communication issue between the brain and muscles that control breathing. This causes patients to stop breathing entirely for brief periods during sleep.
“I recently switched dentists because my previous dentist was way too aggressive in my treatment and his billing people never could get the amount owed correct the first time. Anyway, I’ve been thrilled with the care I have received to date from Eagle Harbor Dental. They are always on time, expeditious and thorough without doing any “unnecessary” work. And they go out of their way to make sure my insurance pays their fare share minimizing out of pocket expenses on my part. Dr Standish and his daughter, Kelly, are great. My dental hygienist, Erin, is top notch as well.”
Sleep apnea can have a broad range of affects that range from inconvenient to life-threatening. Most obviously, patients typically have a lower quality of sleep. Sleep deprivation affects mood and alertness, which can damage work, personal relationships, and other aspects of life.
The condition also effects the oxygen levels in the blood, increasing the risks of high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and heart attacks. The heartbeat may be affected, increasing the risk of developing arrhythmia, or irregular beating patterns.
Treating Sleep Apnea
There are a number of ways to treat sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes, surgical options, breathing devices, and dental devices may all be effective. Surgical options can be scary and expensive, so these are often a last resort. Breathing devices may be difficult for patients to get used to, loud, and annoying for a patients’ family members.
Dental devices are often the least intrusive option. These may fit like a mouth guard or go around the head to reposition the jaw. In some cases, pairing easy-to-use dental devices with lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and avoiding heavy meals before bedtime can be an inexpensive and effective way to treat sleep apnea.
The team at Eagle Harbor Dental can perform an intro-oral exam to determine if your quality of sleep could be improved with therapy. Please contact us for more information if you are experiencing a snoring or sleep apnea problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
A much more serious symptom is if your partner tells you that you periodically stop breathing during your sleep. If you have this symptom, contact us as soon as possible to schedule your appointment.
Would I be able to tell if I sometimes stop breathing in the middle of the night?
If you show signs of the other symptoms, try audio or video recording yourself overnight and check if you’re having these breathing episodes.
Does snoring mean that I have sleep apnea?
Are oral appliances for sleep apnea comfortable to wear?