If you have a snoring issue or wake each night feeling as though you can't breathe, you may suffer from a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is quite common. However, many people may be unaware that they have it until they are diagnosed. Instead, they may simply notice that they are chronically tired. The feeling of exhaustion throughout the day is due to the inability to get a good night's rest.
Nevertheless, sleep apnea can be treated. In fact, your family dentist may be able to improve the quality of your sleep if you have the condition.
Here is a bit of information about sleep apnea and how your dentist can help.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by a collapse of the soft tissues of the throat and mouth. The tissues may become excessively relaxed as you sleep, causing them to sag and obstruct your airway. The interference with your breathing may wake you from a restful sleep repeatedly throughout the night.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The symptoms of the condition include exhaustion, snoring, and nightly breathing problems. Additionally, you may notice that you must urinate frequently during the night.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated Traditionally?
Sleep apnea is frequently treated using a machine that provides continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). A CPAP machine includes a mask that is worn over your face as you sleep. The continuous flow of air from the device helps to prevent the collapse of your oral soft tissues, maintaining the openness of your airway.
CPAP machines are effective, but they are also cumbersome. Many patients may find it difficult to sleep comfortably with the mask over their face. Additionally, the machine is too big for many people to easily take along during travel.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
CPAP machines are not the only treatment options for sleep apnea. Your dentist may also prescribe an oral appliance for the condition. The oral appliance helps reposition your jaw so that it shifts a bit forward. This shifting opens the airway and allows you to sleep peacefully.
Unlike a CPAP machine, the oral appliance is quite small and does not require a power source. Thus, it is less cumbersome and can be easily packed for trips. Additionally, since the device does not cover the face, many patients find an oral appliance to be more comfortable.
If you believe that you are suffering from sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with a family dentist in your local area.