Do you feel like you never wake up fully rested, regardless of what time you fall asleep? Has a sleeping partner alerted you to loud snoring or even pauses in your breathing while you sleep? Do you frequently wake up to a morning headache?
These symptoms could all be signs of sleep apnea, a condition that occurs when the soft tissues at the rear of the mouth slide back during sleep and obstruct the airway opening. As a result, a person with sleep apnea will stop breathing periodically during the night.
Sleep apnea doesn’t just interfere with your sleep. It also is linked to other health problems, such as obesity, stroke and heart attacks.
In the past, the primary treatment method for obstructive sleep apnea was a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask that fits over the mouth and nose and forces a stream of air into the airway to keep it open. Many patients find this device uncomfortable and inconvenient, though.Fortunately, there are alternatives to the CPAP mask, and you can consult with your dentist to be fitted with these appliances. They are plastic devices that feel similar to a mouthguard, but they are specifically designed to hold the tongue and jaw in certain positions to prevent the soft tissues from collapsing and covering the opening to the airway. These devices are much easier to tolerate and they are more convenient to maintain and travel with, as well.
Compliance with mouthguard-style treatments tends to be much higher than with the CPAP devices because the mouthguards are far more comfortable. In fact, some people find the CPAP masks to be so unpleasant that they’re as disruptive to sleep as the apnea itself!
You deserve to get a good night’s sleep, and don’t let sleep apnea keep you from doing so. Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists to be evaluated for sleep apnea treatment so that you can start getting your rest.