When a person suffers from sleep apnea, breathing stops for about 10 seconds at a time while the person is asleep. This may happen hundreds of times per night, depending on the severity of a person’s sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea differs from snoring because of the duration that oxygen is cut off from the brain and body. Although these pauses are generally 10 seconds long, a person may not breathe for a full minute during one of these pauses.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the repeated collapse of the soft tissue in a person’s throat, which blocks the airway during sleep. When that happens, oxygen stops going to the brain and the rest of the body.
As oxygen levels decrease, carbon dioxide levels increase and cause an increase in the effort needed to breathe. Eventually the sleeper wakes, sometimes loudly gasping for air. After several gasps, the oxygen level returns to normal and the person falls back to sleep, only to repeat this cycle again.
This continual drop in oxygen levels can lead to cardiovascular problems over the long term.
OSA affects approximately 18 million adults in the United States. When left untreated, it can have serious consequences for both health and personal development.
Chronic fatigue, mood swings, and an inability to concentrate can all be caused by untreated sleep apnea. These symptoms can, in turn, lead to failed careers, broken marriages, and automobile and workplace accidents.
OSA can even be life-threatening because it can lead to the development of hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. In fact, a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine study found that sleep apnea doubles a person’s risk of stroke over a seven year period.
How can a dentist help my sleep apnea?
The goal of sleep apnea treatment is to alleviate your restless nights in a comfortable and effective way. We want to reduce the health risks associated with sleep apnea and lack of sleep.
Treatment options often include:
- Lifestyle changes.
- Oral appliances or devices.
- Surgery (only in extreme cases).
For patients who require treatment that is more intensive than lifestyle changes, oral appliance therapy is often preferred to relieve symptoms, but it does not necessarily cure sleep apnea.
Oral devices can reposition a patient’s jaw during sleep to alleviate snoring and allow for a more peaceful night’s sleep. These include the Thornton adjustable positioner (TAP), the MAS dorsal fin device, or a telescopic device.
After a thorough consultation and a debrief of your medical history, your Hendersonville sleep apnea dentist can help you decide on an effective treatment to relieve your sleep apnea symptoms!
Learn About Sleep Apnea Treatment at Tabor Dental Associates
If you have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, please call us as soon as possible. We’ll schedule you for the soonest appointment we can, so we can help you get a restful night’s sleep again.
Come get to know your Hendersonville dentist because we enjoy putting in the time to really get to know our patients!