Is your snoring keeping your partner awake at night? Do you wake up gasping for breath? Is not getting enough sleep at night causing drowsiness during your day? If you are answering “Yes!” to these questions, you may need to consider sleep apnea treatment.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing at night or you have labored breathing at night causing the oxygen levels in your blood to decrease. Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles around the throat and tongue relax during sleep, obstructing or completely blocking the airway. This causes an apneic event, which is when you stop breathing at night.
When you stop breathing, your body reacts by shooting adrenaline through your system, increasing your heart rate and eventually waking you up. This can continuously happen throughout the night if not properly treated.
Why is Sleep Apnea Called the Silent Killer?
While you will not die from sleep apnea, it is often called the silent killer because it can lead to more serious health conditions that may result in death. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease that can cause serious health issues like increased blood pressure and the restriction of oxygen to the brain and bloodstream. Fortunately, there are treatments for sleep apnea.
Common effects of sleep apnea can include:
- Severe fatigue
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks or strokes
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Alternative oral devices and CPAP machines can be effective treatments for sleep apnea. Many people who suffer from this condition use a CPAP machine for initial treatment, but at Austin Family Dentistry, we have an alternative sleep apnea solution.
Oral Devices Vs. CPAP Machines
Some medical professionals prescribe the use of a CPAP or a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. This device constantly blows air down the throat to keep the airway open. A CPAP requires patients to wear a mask over their nose, or their nose and mouth during their sleep.
While a CPAP machine can be effective in treating sleep apnea, many patients may feel confined in the mask, and experience some of the following:
- Irritation on the face
- Soreness and dryness in the mouth
Alternative Oral Devices
At Austin Family Dentistry, our recommend oral appliances are as effective in the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea as the CPAP machine. To avoid common, negative side effects of a CPAP machine, we may suggest for patients use a sleep apnea mouthpiece. This oral device simply sits in the mouth at night and physically holds the airway open so patients don’t snore or stop breathing.
Sleep apnea devices can hold the tongue out of the way or move the lower jaw forward. A Sleep apnea mouthpiece often works well for patients with all types of apnea, including moderate to severe cases. Even if your case seems hopeless, a sleep apnea dentist may have a treatment that works for you.
Get Help for Sleep Apnea
At Austin Family Dentistry, we are very familiar with sleep apnea symptoms and treatment options. After your initial consultation, we give you a take-home sleep study that you can do in the comfort of your own home to help you determine how your sleep is being affected. Then, we will go over treatment options to determine the best fit for you. Treating sleep apnea can be a life-changing event, and may even save your life. Contact us today to set up your initial consultation.