This common sleep disorder is characterized by cessation of breathing multiple times throughout your sleep cycle. The condition can be so severe, that some individuals stop breathing up to 30 times in one hour. When your brain realizes it is not receiving sufficient oxygen, it wakes the body to alert you. However, many patients do not remember waking, and therefore do not even realize they are suffering from sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is fairly common. As mentioned above, it is caused by the blockage of the airway, usually due to soft tissues in the throat or around the windpipe. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common, and occurs when signals between the breathing muscles and brain are interrupted.
The warning signs of sleep apnea can be vast and varied. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath or gasping for air
- Loud snoring or choking sounds
- Chronic headaches
- Extreme fatigue and drowsiness
Obstructive sleep apnea can develop for a number of reasons, and can affect males and females of all ages. Some patients may be genetically predisposed to enlarged soft tissues. For example, if an individual has a large tongue or large tonsils, they will be more prone to sleep apnea. However, most risk factors are due to lifestyle. You are at a higher risk for sleep apnea if you:
- Are overweight
- Drink alcohol
- Take sedatives or sleep medications
There are several different treatments for this sleep disorder. Because each individual is unique, the solution will be different for every person. Common treatments include Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), surgery, or undergoing lifestyle changes. However, one of the most conservative and effective options is oral appliance therapy.
A custom oral appliance is a small device that is fitted to your anatomy to prevent the collapse of soft tissues and encourage appropriate airflow. Oral appliances can be effective on their own, or in combination with other methods, such as a CPAP machine. Dr. Luminita Markham is a proud member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, and has undergone extensive training in oral appliance therapy. During an initial consultation, she can help you determine if a custom oral appliance will be helpful in your situation.
Sleep apnea and snoring are closely related, although not mutually exclusive. Snoring shares many of the same risk factors as sleep apnea, including obesity, smoking and alcohol use, and sleeping aides. Like sleep apnea, this condition is caused by the collapse of soft tissues. As the air moves through the narrowed passageway, it results in the vibration sound we refer to as snoring.
If you – or your significant other – is searching for a solution to your snoring, Maidu Dental may have an answer. A mandibular advancement device is a type of custom oral appliance that gently places the jaw forward and moves the tongue in a more favorable position. This increases the space in the airways, leading to a better night’s sleep.
Our patients find the MAD to be quite comfortable. It may take a few nights to become accustomed to the device. However, soon you will not even realize you are wearing it. A MAD can even eliminate snoring in patients suffering from allergies or sinus congestion.