Why Go To a Dentist for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects 22 million Americans. Eighty percent of the patients with sleep apnea have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea that stops them from getting a good night’s sleep and leaves them completely exhausted during the day.
There are three types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax during sleep and block the air passages. This results in disrupted breathing, gasping, and snoring. The act of involuntary breathing is affected, and the patient’s breathing starts and stops multiple times during the night. Because the muscles that are involved in the respiratory process have to work extra hard during the night to maintain the oxygen flow to the lungs and other parts of the body, patients feel extremely worn out and fatigued during the day.
The second most common type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. This occurs when there is a delay in the messages that the brain sends to the muscles that are involved in involuntary breathing. As a result, the breathing process gets disrupted.
The third, and rarest type, of sleep apnea is complex or mixed sleep apnea syndrome. This occurs when the patient suffers from both obstructive sleep apnea as well central sleep apnea.
Studies have shown that men are two to three times more likely to be affected by sleep apnea as compared to women because of the differences in pathology.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
|Snoring during the night
|Gasping for breath while sleeping
|Jerky limb movements while sleeping
|Fatigue during the day
|Inability to concentrate and irritability during the day
Even though the symptoms of sleep apnea are quite easy to spot, diagnosing the sleep disorder can take years, especially if the patient sleeps alone and is unaware of what goes on while they’re asleep. Most often, patients only discover that they have sleep apnea when their partner or roommate informs them about their behavior during the night.
A sleep doctor will be able to diagnose sleep apnea with the help of a device that monitors the patient’s breathing rate, heartbeat, oxygen levels in the blood, brain activity, eye movement, and limb movement while sleeping. Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea and its type, the doctor will refer you to a specialized doctor for seeking treatment for your sleep apnea.
Why Go To A Dentist for Sleep Apnea?
You will be asked to see a dentist if you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Your dentist can help you find the correct dental device to treat your sleep apnea. Dental devices or oral appliances like mouthguards, mandibular advancement devices (MAD), and tongue retainers can be used to keep the air passages open as the person sleeps during the night.
The dentist will thoroughly examine the patient’s oral cavities and make an assessment of his or her needs. If it is the excessive tongue tissues that are blocking the airways, then the dentist will recommend using tongue retainers. But if it is the relaxation of throat muscles at the back of the mouth that is causing the problem, then you will be advised to use a mandibular advancement device to temporarily move the jaw and tongue forward and open the air passages at the back.
In case your obstructive sleep apnea remains uncured with the continued use of these oral appliances and becomes severe, your dentist will further recommend you to an oral surgeon who may suggest surgeries like jaw repositioning or tissue removal to treat your sleep apnea. For more information, visit our sleep apnea FAQ page.
If you are a patient of sleep apnea and are looking for the perfect oral appliance to treat it, then visit us at Smiles of Tulsa today. Give us a call at (918) 891-3059 to book your appointment.