Your Questions About Sleep Apnea Answered

There’s no question that we need our sleep. Though we might be able to get by with a few nights here or there with just a few hours, we deprive our bodies when we don’t get at least seven hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep happens to be an essential function that provides our bodies with what we need to recharge and be refreshed and alert for the next day. When we don’t get enough sleep, our brains can’t function properly. However, for those suffering from sleep apnea, a good night of rest might be a bit harder to come by.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous condition that is more common than we might realize. It occurs when our breathing becomes interrupted during our sleep. The most common form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnea which happens when our throat muscles relax, hindering airflow in and out through our nose and mouth. In many cases, those suffering from sleep apnea aren’t aware that they have the condition but often find themselves battling fatigue during the day. Those with a more severe condition can be more subject to high blood pressure, stroke, and even heart attack.

Who’s at risk for sleep apnea?

It’s critical that you understand the risk factors for sleep apnea, especially if you might be wondering why you wake up tired each day. The most significant risk factor for this condition, however, is excess body weight. That said, you can suffer from sleep apnea even if you are thin. The most common risk factors for this condition are as follows:

  • Excess weight with a BMI of 25 or higher
  • Large neck size which equates to over 17 inches for men and over 16 inches for women
  • Middle age, which is arbitrarily defined as the age period between 40 and 60
  • Males
  • Presence of hypertension
  • Family history of sleep apnea

Is snoring a telltale sign of sleep apnea?

The truth is that not all snoring is a sign of sleep apnea. However, snoring is commonly associated with the disorder. Suppose you are experiencing snoring in combination with any of the following symptoms. In that case, it is suggested that you talk to your medical provider or dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Breathing pauses during sleep witnessed by a partner or during a sleep study
  • Snoring so loud that it negatively impacts your partner’s sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Sore throat upon waking in the morning
  • Restless nights of sleep
  • Choking or gasping for air during the night while sleeping
  • Chest pain noticed during the nighttime hours
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor attention span or behavioral issues at school

How is sleep apnea treated?

The good news for those suffering from sleep apnea is that it can be treated. A CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common and reliable method for treating sleep apnea. Invented back in 1980, the CPAP is a revolutionary device that pushes a steady stream of air to your nose and mouth while you sleep. CPAP machines help to keep your airway open, help you to snore less, and to sleep better.

For patients with milder to more moderate forms of obstructive sleep apnea, their dentist might prescribe a dental appliance or oral mandibular advancement device that works by preventing your tongue from blocking your throat. These devices also help to advance your lower jaw forward. As a result, and similar to the goal of the CPAP machine, your airway is kept open while you sleep. In most cases, these oral appliances are prescribed by dentists or sleep specialists.

How do CPAP machines work?

As alluded to previously, CPAP machines operate by pressurizing air that is delivered to you through a hose and mask while you sleep. Think of an oxygen mask placed on a patient in an ambulance or the hospital, and it is pretty much the same thing, but a CPAP is designed for home use. The steady flow of air helps to keep your airway open. As a result, you experience improved respiration and a better night of sleep.

How does an oral appliance work?

The oral appliances that we mentioned above are also commonly referred to as mouth guards or nightguards. Not only do these devices help to keep you from grinding your teeth while you sleep, but they also help you to keep your airway open. These devices are worn inside your mouth and are favored to help with daytime sleepiness, concentration issues, moodiness caused by lack of sleep, or to reduce or eliminate snoring.

Oral appliances are also great solutions for those who don’t tolerate a CPAP machine well, travel frequently, or want something quiet to operate without electricity.

How can Duvall Dental Center help with my sleep apnea?

If you are experiencing sleep apnea in the Duvall, Washington area, the chances are that Duvall Dental Center can help. Dr. Tyler can create a custom mouth guard for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea. These custom mouth guards and nightguards provide a high level of comfort and help protect your teeth from the wrong kind of impact.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea or need a dental visit, be sure to request an appointment using the form on our website. You can also request a virtual consult to speak with our team and determine the best next steps for treatment of this condition. Virtual consults are a great way to ascertain a potential treatment plan and its associated costs.

Whichever option you choose, the Duvall Dental Center team in Duvall, WA, looks forward to talking to you and answering your sleep apnea questions.