Sleep apnea is a condition where a sleeping individual literally stops breathing for several seconds or longer. This can occur repeatedly throughout the night, and results in more than a restless period of sleep. Unfortunately, sleep apnea won’t just go away without corrections like surgery. The good news is that there are options available that will help bring relief.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common condition that affects patients. Soft tissues in the mouth and/or throat relax during sleep and cause the breathing airway to be blocked. Some of the actions to be taken to reduce its impact include losing weight, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and while it seems contrary do not take a sedative to try to get better rest. Sedatives and alcohol simply cause those muscles in the tongue and throat to relax even more making the problem worse.
A visit to our dentist is a great place to start to seek a solution. While a definitive diagnosis requires a sleep study, if you are dealing with the symptoms of sleep apnea, a specially fabricated mouth guard might be the answer.
The oral appliance our dentist can make for you will place your jaw forward helping to prevent airway blockage. There is also a splint available that restrains the tongue from blocking the airway.
Both of these solutions require a professionally made device. Attempts to modify a generic mouth guard may do more harm than good. Your dentist is uniquely qualified to help treat sleep apnea by fitting you with the mouth guard that will be as comfortable as possible.
Patients who leave their disrupted sleep patterns untreated risk more than just daytime sleepiness. Over time sleep apnea can contribute to conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even death. Anyone who must be alert to perform their job (truck driver, airline pilot, or surgeon to name a few) puts themselves and those who rely on them at risk if they are deprived of sleep that allows them to function normally.
Symptoms might be hard to define. Excessive snoring and daily fatigue are two, but many patients are not aware they are dealing with this condition … nighttime restlessness is often attributed to daytime stressors.
If you feel you might suffer from sleep apnea, contact our office to see how we can help return you to restful sleep.