Dentist in Richardson, TX

Sleep Apnea: Are there health risks?

A common sleep disorder, sleep apnea, involves the involuntary cessation of breath during sleep. Caused by soft oral tissues collapsing into the airways during sleep, this condition robs a patient of experiencing deep, rejuvenating rest. When patients stop breathing during cycles of apnea, the body wakes slightly to reinitiate the normal breathing process. The cessation of breath can last up to 60 seconds and occur hundreds of times in one night. This impedes a sleeper’s ability to naturally progress through each sleep stage.

Sleep apnea has been linked to a number of health conditions including cardiovascular ailments, depression, memory loss, and obesity. Because this disorder prevents a patient from receiving the deep rest needed to rejuvenate the body’s organ and tissues, many researchers believe that untreated sleep apnea puts patients at risk for systemic health problems. Furthermore, the unnatural cycle of waking throughout the night, caused by apnea, stops the heart from slowing down to a constant rate—a natural occurrence during rest.

Sleep apnea has been linked to a number of health conditions including cardiovascular ailments, depression, memory loss, and obesity.

Diagnosing sleep apnea normally occurs after a consultation with your dentist who may recommend that you undergo a sleep study evaluation. By working with a team of specialists and taking your general health into account, your dentist can then recommend the best treatment for your needs. In some cases, patients can reduce apnea during sleep by lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol intake at night.

In the past, the most common method for treating apnea was the use of the CPAP mask. This device emits pressurized air into the oral cavity to prevent oral tissues from blocking airways. However, many patients find that sleeping with this bulky and noisy equipment is very difficult.

As an alternative to the CPAP mask, your dentist may prescribe a custom-fitted oral appliance for treating sleep apnea. Similar to a sports mouth guard, this appliance fits comfortably in the mouth and prevents breathing cessation by repositioning the lower mandible and tongue slightly forward. This slight repositioning effectively stops oral tissues from obstructing airways during sleep.

If you exhibit signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, call (972) 218-0078 today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.

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