Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a patient’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This can happen due to various reasons, the most common being airway constriction.
The airway can be constricted for several reasons. It can be due to having a large tongue or tonsils, being overweight, having an abnormal jaw structure, recessed chin, large neck circumference or narrow airway, excess tissue in the throat, or nasal obstruction. Some of the other causes are being prone to allergies or sinus infections, smoking, alcohol use, especially drinking lots of alcohol before bed, etc.
Because sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing during sleep, this interruption can cause loud snoring, choking or gasping for air, and daytime fatigue. If you experience any of the following, see our dentist as soon as possible.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
If you have been waking up feeling exhausted, even after a full night of sleep, you may have sleep apnea. Typically, our dentist will suggest you keep a sleep diary for at least two weeks. During this time, you will record the time you go to bed, the time you wake up, and how many times you wake up during the night.
Our dentist will review your sleep diary to determine if you have sleep apnea or not. Once we diagnose you with sleep apnea, we will create a customized treatment plan for you.
The plan may include the following:
- CPAP therapy
- Oral appliance therapy
What Are the Treatments for Sleep Apnea?
Many patients who suffer from sleep apnea can be successfully treated with oral appliances or CPAP. These devices are specially made to fit your mouth and are intended to help keep your airway open while you sleep.
Mandibular advancement devices are custom-fabricated mouthguard-like oral appliances designed by a dentist. They bring the lower jaw forward and keep the roof of the throat from collapsing into the airway, thereby keeping it open at all times.
CPAP is a device that consists of a mask, which has to be worn over the mouth and nose, and a machine that provides a pressurized and constant supply of oxygen. By supplying oxygen to the lungs, it keeps the airway open at all times and prevents sleep apnea.
What Is the Difference Between CPAP and Oral Appliances?
Many patients prefer oral appliances over CPAP because they are far more comfortable to wear. Instead of a loud machine with a mask, patients simply wear a small, comfortable device in their mouth while they sleep.
Oral appliances are also easier to use than CPAP. Patients simply wear the device in their mouth, and the device moves the lower jaw slightly forward. This slight adjustment helps the airway stay open and can prevent snoring and sleep apnea.
How Can I Prevent Sleep Apnea?
Diagnosing sleep apnea as early as possible can help you take steps to reverse its symptoms and prevent it from worsening. Working with a dentist who’s familiar with your medical history can help.
Dentists can screen for sleep apnea using several methods, including:
- Oral examination
- Dental X-rays
- Sleep apnea questionnaire
- Sleep apnea screening device
Sleep apnea in children is diagnosed by discussing the child’s symptoms with the parents. Parents should report their child’s symptoms to the dentist, and the dentist may refer the patient to a physician specializing in sleep disorders for further diagnosis and care.
To find out more about the dental services we offer at Allisonville Dental Centre, call (317) 547-5766 or schedule a consultation online. You can also visit us at 2811 E 46th St, Indianapolis 46205.