Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can seriously impact your health. There are a number of dental appliances that may be able to help. Although we do not offer sleep apnea appliances specifically, our Winnipeg dentists discuss sleep apnea and how dental appliances may be used to help manage the symptoms of this condition.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is marked by abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) or shallow breathing while a person sleeps. These apneas may occur due to a lack of respiratory effort, physical blockage of airflow or both.
The three types of sleep apnea include::
- Central sleep apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
What causes sleep apnea?
When you are in deep sleep, your throat tissues, tongue and soft palate relax. For those with sleep apnea, the soft palate and throat tissues over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat and block the airway.
Since the airway is blocked, the flow of oxygen ceases, causing your brain to force you to wake up slightly to consciously resume breathing. These episodes can occur hundreds of times per night, seriously disrupting your sleep.
How are snoring and sleep apnea diagnosed?
Symptoms of sleep apnea include heavy snoring, headaches and migraines upon waking, restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, problems focusing, irritability, depression and TMJ symptoms.
Though loud snoring is a notorious symptom and may indicate a potentially serious problem, not everyone who has sleep apnea will snore. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should visit a medical professional so you can receive a proper diagnosis.
Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed by a licensed medical professional such as your primary physician.
Can sleep apnea devices or oral appliances help?
Dental appliances can help by positioning your lower jaw further forward, effectively pulling your tongue away from the throat and the soft palate to open your airway. These dental appliances are:
- Easy to care for
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to insert and remove
- Quiet and not disruptive to any bed partners (unlike some sleep apnea machines)
- Convenient for travel
Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?
If you have sleep apnea, you will be unable to fall into a deep, restorative sleep that recharges your brain and body. This can play a role in many medical disorders and diseases, and reduce your life’s quality and longevity.
Complications can include a wide range of conditions from metabolic syndrome and high blood sugar, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. You may also experience heart problems, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and resistance to insulin. Because of your daytime fatigue, you may be at an increased risk of workplace or motor vehicle accidents.
By treating sleep apnea, you can improve and protect your overall health and well-being.
What are some other uses for dental appliances?
While we focused on sharing information about sleep apnea in this post, there are a number of other uses and types of dental appliances.
Custom-fit night guards can help patients who clench or grind their teeth regularly. This sleep habit can lead to a number of serious dental conditions and pain. Another option is sports mouthguards which help to cushion the teeth if the mouth suffers a sudden impact.
Our team at Sturgeon Creek Dental is happy to speak with you about our dental appliance options and how they are custom-made to fit your teeth.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes only. Sturgeon Creek Dental does not offer dedicated sleep apnea appliances.