What are the different types of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing (apneas) or shallow breathing while an individual sleeps. These apneas can occur due to a physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or both.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome (occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea)
Are there any particular causes of sleep apnea?
When you drift into a deep sleep, your throat tissues, soft palate and tongue relax. For those with sleep apnea, the throat tissues and soft palate over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of your throat, blocking the airway.
If your airway becomes blocked then you are no longer getting the restful deep sleep that you need as your brain will always keep you in a semi-conscious state in order to ensure breathing.. These episodes may happen hundreds of times a night, seriously disrupting your sleep.
What symptoms might be seen with sleep apnea?
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 the symptoms of sleep apnea then it is imperative that you visit with a medical professional as soon as possible to receive a diagnosis.
While your dentist is unable to provide you with a diagnosis, they will suggest you visit a medical professional if they notice any concerning signs that indicate sleep apnea. They will also be able to help you manage the symptoms once you have been properly diagnosed. We will complete a full examination of your teeth, tongue, airway and jaw, and potentially take an x-ray of your airway, to determine the right appliance for your needs.
How can dental appliances help manage sleep apnea?
Dental appliances are created to help readjust the soft palate allowing your airway to open as it should. Some of the benefits of 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
What is the importance of seeking treatment for sleep apnea?
When you sleep, your body uses this time to reset and recharge, replenishing the cells lost or damaged throughout the day and healing itself. This can have a direct effect on your body's ability to fight disease and can impact your quality of life.
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.
Your dentists can help you manage the symptoms of sleep apnea allowing your body to do what it does best.