What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by multiple brief interruptions in sleep (apneas) that take place each night. Although each individual episode is very brief, this can have an effect on your health. Sleep apnea reduces the oxygen available in the bloodstream, in which the body responds by alerting the sleeper, who wakes briefly.
What Are Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The main symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Persistent, intense snoring which may be loud enough to wake you or a bedroom partner
- Choking or gasping awake, especially while lying on the back, that you may be aware of
- Morning headaches caused by a relatively low concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream
- Daytime drowsiness associated with the feeling you have not gotten enough restful sleep
Why Should I See a Dentist for Sleep Apnea?
The vast majority of sleep apnea cases are obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. In this form apneas during the night are caused by a physical obstruction in the airway. This typically happens when loss of muscle tone during deep sleep allows soft tissue to “collapse” in the airway. Many obstructive sleep apnea cases can be addressed at the source without surgery.
Instead, your dentist creates a simple dental appliance you wear during the night. This tool is designed to exert gentle pressure on the jaw during sleep. With a slight change of orientation of the teeth and mouth during sleep, the airway can be effectively widened.
When Should I Go to the Dentist for Sleep Apnea?
Many people who have sleep apnea are not aware of the problem at first. In fact, it can persist for months or years before a diagnosis is sought. This is because the principal symptoms are not always noticeable to the person who has it. Snoring, in particular, is not always seen as a serious issue.
Many people who have sleep apnea first hear about their snoring, gasping, and choking from a sleep partner. Moderate or severe snoring points to an underlying health issue that must be cared for. If it is tied with persistent poor sleep, it is important to see your dentist right away.
How Can a Test Help with Sleep Apnea?
Specific forms of testing can help you determine whether or not you have sleep apnea.
An overnight sleep study is performed using specialized equipment that records information about your body during sleep. This allows a physician to determine the number and severity of sleep apneas you experience on a nightly basis. A significant number of apneas indicates you are suffering from a sleep disorder.
Are There Other Types of Sleep Apnea?
Two other types of sleep apnea are:
Central Sleep Apnea
This form of sleep apnea is when your breathing stops and starts during sleep. Central sleep apnea occurs because the brain is not sending proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
This form of sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. Because of its complexity, it is not usually possible to diagnose it until the patient has been diagnosed with one of the other two types.
If you are experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, make an appointment today with Central Avenue Dental of Manhattan and Valley Stream, NY. We offer a range of quality services delivered with personalized care.