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Sleep Apnea Treatment

Do you find yourself snoring throughout the night or feeling unrested even with eight hours of sleep? These symptoms put together, along with other signs of sleep disturbance, can be indicative of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder stemming from problems with your oral health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, call a dentist in Orlando, FL. Thornton Park Dental Arts provides comprehensive treatment for both types of sleep apnea and other dental services to improve the quality of life for all our patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a sleep apnea dentist.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a major sleep disorder that affects more than 18 million adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It causes repeated breathing interruptions that can last mere seconds or a few minutes, and this can occur more than 30 times per hour for the duration of the sleep cycle. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to this breathing pause. For professional sleep apnea treatment, contact our Orlando dentists.

Types Of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It’s important to understand the differences between the two so patients can get the proper treatment suited to their specific needs.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when your upper airways are somewhat or completely blocked while you sleep due to the collapse of soft tissue at the back of the throat. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea caused by the collapse of soft tissue. The blockage creates more work for your diaphragm and chest muscles to help open the airways again and pull air into the lungs. Because of the soft tissue collapse, those with OSA cannot take in proper amounts of oxygen or exhale enough carbon dioxide. As oxygen levels go down, the medulla oblongata, the part of the brain that regulates breathing sends signals to the respiratory system that the body needs more oxygen, causing those with OSA to experience frequent sleep disturbances.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder resulting from a miscommunication between the brain and breathing muscles. Unlike OSA, the pathways aren’t blocked; the brain just doesn’t signal your breathing muscles to move, resulting in a lack of oxygen. Snoring is less common in patients with central sleep apnea and might be the result of other health conditions.

Sleep Apnea Causes

Sleep apnea can affect those of any age or gender. However, these risk factors of sleep apnea increase the likelihood of developing obstructive or central sleep apnea.

  • Excess weight. Obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea because extra fat deposits around the upper airways can interfere with breathing.
  • Neck circumference. Patients with thicker necks may have extremely narrow airways, which could obstruct breathing.
  • Narrowed airway. Having a narrow throat may result in the development of sleep apnea. Enlarged tonsils can block the airway, specifically in children.
  • Heart disorders. Patients with congestive heart failure or other heart conditions have a higher risk of developing central sleep apnea.
  • Male gender. Men are two-three times more likely to have sleep apnea than women. However, when women are overweight and experiencing menopause, they have a higher chance of developing sleep apnea.
  • Age. Sleep apnea occurs more often in adults than in children.
  • Nasal congestion. If it’s difficult for patients to breathe through their nose, whether from allergies or a medical condition, they are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
  • Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea than nonsmokers due to increased inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airways.
  • Family history. If patients have family members with sleep apnea, they have a higher risk of developing it themselves.
  • Stroke. If you’ve had a stroke, you have a higher chance of getting central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
  • Use of alcohol, narcotics, or sedatives. Alcohol and sedatives can relax the throat muscles, putting patients at a greater risk for developing OSA; the use of narcotics, such as methadone, increases the chance of patients developing central sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

There are many dental signs of sleep apnea, such as teeth grinding or teeth clenching, which can lead to broken teeth, inflamed gums, and tooth wear. Patients who have an increased amount of cavities or tooth decay are also at risk of developing sleep apnea. Another important indicator of both types of sleep apnea is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which causes jaw pain. Studies have shown when the throat muscles relax before an apnea episode, the jaw instinctually clamps down to prevent the airway from being blocked, which can result in severe jaw, neck and shoulder strain and pain common in TMJ.

Many symptoms appear in both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Some of these include loud snoring, waking up with dry mouth, trouble remaining asleep, daytime sleepiness, and waking up feeling tired. If you’re having trouble sleeping or experiencing any of these symptoms, contact our dentist office in Orlando, FL, right away.

Effects Of Sleep Apnea

Both types of sleep apnea are serious medical conditions. The effects of sleep apnea can impact sleep quality and reduce a patient’s quality of life. Some of these complications include high blood pressure or heart problems, daytime fatigue, increased risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver problems, or other medical/surgical complications. If left untreated, OSA can lead to other serious medical problems such as a heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation, lung conditions, and even early death.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

There are many different sleep apnea treatment options to help patients reduce the severity and effects of sleep apnea in addition to snoring. The most common treatment option for mild to moderate sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP is a non-surgical mask connected by a hose to an air pressure machine that uses forced air to push open tissue in the nose and throat to help clear a patient’s airways. Some patients find these machines to be uncomfortable or cumbersome, so other treatment options should be considered, such as dental appliances for sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance

Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea who are seeking a non-invasive treatment option turn to dental appliances to help with their sleep disorder. Though a CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea, oral appliances are easier to use. These mouth devices must be fitted by a dentist. The mandibular advancement devices look similar to a mouthguard used for sports and fit over the top and bottom of the teeth. These sleep apnea mouthpieces move the jaw forward to help keep the airways open and prevent the tongue and other muscles from blocking the airway. Rather than dealing with a mask, these dental devices for sleep apnea are easy to wear, comfortable, travel-friendly, portable, and effective. At Thornton Park Dental Arts, we pride ourselves on creating oral appliances for sleep apnea perfectly outfitted to patients’ mouth size, shape, and bite. Patients with severe OSA or central sleep apnea should consider getting a custom dental device for sleep apnea.

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