Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and restarts during your sleep. “Apnea” refers to a breathing interruption that lasts at least 10 seconds.
Poor quality of sleep may lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, increased risk of motor vehicle accidents and decreased quality of life.
If you have sleep apnea, you may show sleep-related symptoms such as snoring, witnessed apneas, frequent nocturnal awakenings, frequent mouth breathing and waking with a dry mouth. It may disturb not only your sleep but your partner’s too.
If left untreated, sleep apnea studies showed many association with health conditions for example high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Also, there are some literature suggesting periodontitis can be highly associated with sleep apnea.
According to American Sleep Apnea Association, “It is estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed.”
There are three types of sleep apneas. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type, defined by repeated airway blockage during sleep. Central sleep apnea is another type of sleep apnea. It occurs when your brain is not sending the right signals to breathe while you are asleep and causing unproductive and shallow breaths, but this type is far less common. The last type is complex sleep apnea and this is a combination of OSA and central sleep apnea.
Some risk factors for OSA includes obesity, males, African Americans, alcohol drinking, smoking, nasal congestion and upper airway anatomy.
Polysomnography, or sleep study is thought to be the gold standard of diagnosing. However, recently many screening tools (questionnaire, cone beam CT, pharyngometer/ rhinometer, take home sleep study, etc.) have been developed to aid screening high risk patients.
The treatment of OSA consists of modifying lifestyle via losing weight and quitting smoking, using oral appliances, using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), and upper airway surgery.
Clearly it is hard to find out if you are in need of a CPAP or oral appliances by yourself, you may schedule a consultation for sleep apnea. Kids & Grownups Dental professional will be happy to answer any questions and recommend which treatment is best for you.