Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when the soft tissues in the throat area or back of the mouth collapse while sleeping closing off the air way. The patient actually stops breathing. In severe cases, this can occur hundreds of time throughout the night.
The patient often awakens still tired because they are not aware of the number of times throughout the night their sleep was interrupted. When the patient’s breathing is halted, they will awaken briefly sometimes coughing or just changing positions. But in many cases, the individual is clueless as to what is occurring throughout the night.
A partner may get a sense of what is happening as sleep apnea patients often snore loudly, and do awaken with a cough. But snoring does not automatically mean the person is suffering with sleep apnea.
If you believe you might have sleep apnea, a visit with your dentist is in order for what has become the solution for many patients.
A specially designed mouth guard is fabricated that will position your jaw and tongue to allow the airway to remain open throughout the period of sleep. Other devices can be uncomfortable and restrict movement throughout the night; however, the mouth guard is a simple solution that does not impede movement and for most patients feels so natural, it is an easy response to sleep apnea.
The only permanent way to resolve sleep apnea requires a surgical repair. This can be done in extreme or severe cases. Absent surgery, in addition to the mouth guard there are a couple of other suggestions your dentist may make to reduce the impact of sleep apnea.
Weight loss is recommended as just the loss of a few pounds can make a difference. Sleeping on a side as opposed to flat on your back might help. Sleeping in an elevated position using a pillow wedge might be suggested.
Tobacco use can exasperate the condition. Alcohol consumption or the use of medicinal sleep aids can actually worsen the condition as the muscles that lead to the problem become even more relaxed.
If you awaken with a headache frequently or feel sleep deprived, investigating this potential problem could be life-changing. Quality sleep can mean more productive days and a general feeling of well-being; looking and feeling rested is desired by everyone.
If you suspect you have sleep apena, consult with our dental team by reserving an appointment at (972) 218-0078 today.