It is easy to misunderstand the condition known as sleep apnea. After all, most people associate it with one of its key symptoms – snoring. However, snoring and sleep apnea are two entirely different issues. At Rivercrest Family Dental in New Braunfels, TX, we work with patients who struggle with this risky and harmful condition, offering diagnosis and treatment that improves the quality of sleep, health and oral health too.
What Is It?
Technically, the condition called sleep apnea means that your breathing is impaired as you sleep, and it may even be completely blocked. Many people will be unable to breathe from five to up to fifty times per hour each night.
The most commonly known type of apnea is OSA or obstructive sleep apnea. It happens when the airways in the mouth, throat or nose are blocked by soft tissue or the tongue as you sleep. Patients with oversized adenoids or tonsils may struggle with sleep apnea, as do those with certain jaw disorders or people who are overweight, taking specific medications or consuming a lot of alcohol before bed.
It occurs during sleep because that is the time when you are lying flat, and this allows the tissue to collapse backwards onto the back of the throat, closing the air passage.
Most Common Symptoms
The problem with this condition is that most of us do not wake up enough to realize we are struggling to breathe effectively. Instead, the most common symptoms include a sense of not being rested each morning, being drowsy throughout the day or waking up with a headache. Those who have partners may hear them complain that they snore too much, snort or gasp a lot, and toss and turn throughout the night.
In addition to poor sleep, apnea also puts you at risk for very serious health issues brought on by the disruption to healthy breathing. Patients may develop high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, coronary disease, depression, diabetes and increase their risk for stroke.
The good news is that sleep apnea is entirely treatable. The first step is often to visit a physician who can give you a formal diagnosis. They will have you undergo a sleep study and then suggest initial treatments such as weight loss, different sleeping positions and the avoidance of certain medications or alcoholic beverages prior to bed. Most also suggest you visit your dentist.
What the Dentist Will Do
Patients in our dental office will have a few options available to treat their condition. One of the simplest is the use of oral appliances specially designed for your needs. Typically, this will realign the upper and lower jaws, preventing soft tissue from blocking the airway. You put in the appliance at bedtime and enjoy safe and restful sleep.
We might also give you a CPAP machine or continuous positive airway pressure system that forces are into your airways, preventing tissue from blocking them.
Contact Our Dentist for Sleep Apnea Treatment Today
Now that you know more about sleep apnea, it is time to talk with a general dentist in New Braunfels about the treatment. Get in touch with this dentist office today by calling 830-625-7611 or by visiting our Contact page.