How to Treat Sleep Apnea?

How to Treat Sleep Apnea?

Posted by SMILE MAKERS DENTAL CARE on Mar 13 2023, 08:49 AM

Sleep apnea is a condition where there is repeated stopping of breathing during sleep. It affects the quality of your sleep, health, and mood. The first step to treating sleep apnea is to see your physician for a formal diagnosis. From there, our dentist can determine the treatment option.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax, blocking the airway and causing shallow breathing or stoppages of breathing. When the tongue falls back, it blocks the airway, and airflow stops. The brain notices a lack of oxygen and wakes the body up briefly to take a breath. This causes people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea to wake up many times throughout the night. This can result in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability, headaches, depression, and other complications.

The most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea are as follows:

  • Excess body weight that is concentrated around the neck area
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Certain misaligned jaws, such as those with recessed chins and those with an underbite or overbite, can contribute to a narrow upper jaw that causes soft tissues such as the tongue and soft palate to block the back of the mouth and airways.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption before bed can further relax the throat muscles and cause snoring and pauses in breathing to occur.
  • Smoking can cause inflammation and swelling of the soft tissues of the mouth, nose, and throat, which can block the airways and lead to frequent waking during the night to breathe.
  • Other medical conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, can also contribute to obstructive sleep apnea.

If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent more serious complications from occurring. 

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

The number one symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. However, many people who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea don’t realize they’re experiencing any symptoms at all because they often don’t remember their sleep during the night. However, someone who has a mild case of obstructive sleep apnea will often wake up gasping for air or multiple times throughout the night. People with sleep apnea can experience trouble concentrating, headaches in the morning, and sore throats due to the dry mouth caused by breathing through the mouth all night.

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

If your sleep test determines that you suffer from sleep apnea, you are probably wondering what treatment options are available. The most common form of treatment for mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP machine. However, if you have been diagnosed with severe or complex sleep apnea, you may need surgery.

For snoring and mild cases of sleep apnea, your dentist may recommend using a mouthguard to position your tongue and lower jaw forward while you sleep. This eliminates obstruction of the airway through the mouth. Your dentist may also recommend making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight if those factors exacerbate your sleep apnea.

Surgery is only an option for severe cases of complex sleep apnea. Surgical procedures involve removing tissue from the back of the throat to stabilize the tongue and jaw. These procedures are effective but should only be considered for severe cases since risks include bleeding, pain, infection, and changes in speech.

Visit Smile Makers Dental Care, 901 Sunvalley Blvd. Suite 240, Concord, CA 94520, for a professional dental checkup. Book an appointment online or call us at (925) 685-9339 for any questions or concerns related to oral health. 

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