Did you know that your dental health can directly affect your sleep? If not, this is the information you need to find out. Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing stops and starts severally overnight.
It occurs when the muscles that hold the soft tissues in your throat, like the tongue and soft palate relax. This relaxation narrows or closes your airway leading to a breathing problem. The role of dentistry in solving sleep disorders is becoming more in the current world. There are three main types of sleep apnea, as discussed below.
Obstructive sleep apnea
It is the most common form that occurs when the throat muscles relax. It is usually due to decreased airflow into the lungs when the airway is blocked during sleep. It leads to a drop in oxygen levels, and your sleep gets disrupted.
A sleep apnea dentist has an opportunity to help patients at various levels of this disorder. You can do it by recognizing the sleep-related disease in the patients, referring them to a physician for evaluation, and assisting in managing the disease. Some other factors that increase the risk of this form of sleep apnea are:
Obesity – The fat deposits around your airway obstruct breathing.
Age – This condition primarily affects adults.
A narrowed airway – Could have been inherited or due to tonsils.
Family history – Having family members with this condition increases one’s risk of acquiring the same.
The use of alcohol and smoking – These substances can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
Nasal congestion and medical conditions – Heart failure, high blood pressure, and diabetes are some of the conditions that increase the risk of getting this disease.
For treatment, less invasive procedures are preferred. Behavior modification is the first and most straightforward option, Insertion of oral devices suited to the patient, particularly those with mild cases, and surgical options for moderate and severe cases.
Central sleep apnea
It occurs when your brain doesn’t send appropriate signals to the muscles that control breathing. It is a severe condition that makes sleep quite impossible but is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. One keeps waking up at night, leading to drowsiness, irritability, and fatigue during the day. It results from conditions like heart failure and stroke. The common symptoms here include; Snoring, mood changes, abrupt awakening with shortness of breath, excessive sleep during the day, and morning headaches. Factors that increase the risk of this disorder include;
Age – It’s more common among adults, especially those 60 years and above.
Heart disorders – Those with irregular heartbeats and whose heart muscles don’t pump enough blood for the body are at significant risk.
High altitude – A sleeping position that is higher than the one you are accustomed to increases the risk of this condition
Stroke or brain tumor – If the brain is affected, then the ability to regulate breathing is impaired
Complex sleep apnea syndrome
It occurs when someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. It is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. The signs here happen during sleep, while others arise during the day. During sleep, the symptoms are more seeming to your bed partner. They include snoring and gasping awake.
It happens when the airway is obstructed. It is more common in men, coronary artery disease patients, and those who have congestive heart failure. Doctors can treat this disease using Positive pressure devices. CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) You can use therapy to provide a constant airflow through a face mask at one pressure.
The added air keeps the airway from collapsing and helps resolve snoring. This therapy device has been proven effective and helps improve quality of life. BiPAP (Bi-level positive airway pressure), which has two air pressures for inhaling and exhaling, can also be used to treat this form of sleep apnea.
Your dentist can find a way to improve your sleep. The lower jaw can get advanced through dental appliances, oral mandibular devices, or the tongue stops from blocking the upper airway. So many oral appliances get approved by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) to treat sleep apnea. Dental appliances are usually preferred over PAP therapy because it is less invasive and always more affordable and more comfortable.