Have you noticed that when you awaken in the morning, you feel like you haven’t rested? Are you lethargic throughout the day? Your local dentist says you could be suffering from sleep apnea and weighs in to explain the different types, their symptoms and how they can be treated.
What is Sleep Apnea?
To get an understanding of this condition, let’s start by looking at the word apnea, meaning “no breath.” Thus, if you have sleep apnea, your ability to breathe while sleeping has been compromised.
Your body has built-in mechanisms that are activated when there is a prolonged loss of oxygen. Therefore, your brain will send a signal to awaken you during momentary apnea. These breaks in your sleep cycle lead to the many problems that accompany this condition, which can include hypertension and heart issues.
Three Types of Sleep Apnea
The following are the three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – The most common form of sleep apnea, OSA occurs when there is a blockage in the upper airway, impeding the flow of oxygen. This is usually the result of muscles in your throat relaxing, making it harder for air to pass through and triggering your brain to alert you to awaken.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CA) – Whereas OSA stems from a blockage in your airway, CA problems originate in your nervous system. Thus, your throat may be completely clear of obstructions, yet you experience an interruption in your breathing.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea (MA) – Unfortunately, some people will suffer from a combination of both OSA and CA. As a result, you experience bouts of either type of interruption in your breathing. The best way to know for sure is to participate in a sleep study.
In the meantime, it helps to know what some of the more common traits of this condition are.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Here are some of the symptoms of sleep apnea to be on the lookout for:
- Snoring – It is common among people who suffer from OSA to be loud snorers due to their airways being blocked.
- Morning Headaches – The lack of oxygen that results from bouts of sleep apnea can cause headaches in the morning.
- Depression or Irritability – If you notice that you feel depressed or irritable during the day, it could be a sign of sleep apnea, because your moods are highly impacted by your hormones. Therefore, when you fail to get quality rest, your mental state can fluctuate.
How Can Your Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?
Thankfully, there are ways to treat this condition. Depending on the type of sleep apnea that you have, your dentist may employ one or a combination of the following:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine – The CPAP machine consists of a mask and tube that are connected to a central unit that is used to ensure that air is circulated properly while you sleep.
- Oral Appliance – For some people, an oral appliance is the better option because of its small size and ability to be easily transported. It helps push the jaw forward during sleep to ensure that the airway stays open.
- Mixed Treatment – In certain cases, your dentist will recommend that both the CPAP and an oral appliance are used in combination to deliver the best results.
If you find yourself suffering from any of the above symptoms, reach out to your local dentist to schedule a consultation. He will be able to direct you down the best path to more restful nights and productive days.
About the Author
For over 20 years, Dr. Neil Flenniken has been delivering the best in compassionate and expert care to his patients. A graduate of Howard University, he has also received advanced training from the institute in Las Vegas for Advance Dental Studies. Dr. Flenniken practices at Monarch Dentistry and can be reached for more information through his website.