Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that happens when a person's breathing is interrupted while sleeping. Pauses in breath occur due to relaxed throat muscles that partially block the airway and prevent air from moving through it. At some point during the pause, the brain will signal the body to wake up long enough to open the throat and allow oxygen to pass. However, this process can happen many times throughout the night, preventing you from getting the rest you need to stay healthy and energetic. Regardless of which type of sleep apnea you have, seeking treatment at My Tacoma Dentist - David Wagner DDS, as soon as possible is essential to decrease the risk of any ill effects on your health and overall quality of life.
The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Loud snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep are some of the most common symptoms associated with sleep apnea, but these aren’t always present. Patients with sleep apnea may also experience chronic daytime sleepiness; irritability; morning headaches; mood changes; problems concentrating; memory loss; depression; trouble losing weight; and more.
People who suspect they may have sleep apnea should consult with a dentist as soon as possible. Sleep apnea symptoms may be mild initially, but they can grow more severe over time. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to health complications like high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Patients with sleep apnea are often given a CPAP mask to use at night while they sleep. This mask is connected to a machine that delivers continuous airflow through the night. This helps to keep the airway open and prevent snoring and apnea episodes. Patients who are intolerant to CPAP machines or who find it challenging to maintain compliance may benefit from oral appliance therapy. With this treatment, a custom mouthpiece is fabricated to fit a patient’s mouth like a mouthguard. The mouthpiece repositions the jaw and helps to keep the airways open throughout the night. Oral appliances are recommended for patients who are not good candidates for CPAP devices but who have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Aside from lifestyle changes like losing weight and quitting smoking, patients with sleep apnea may have to wear an oral device to sleep every night for the rest of their lives. However, these devices are highly effective at preventing symptoms and can significantly improve quality of life.
Visit My Tacoma Dentist - David Wagner DDS, at 1919 N. Pearl St. Suite A-3, Tacoma, WA, 98406, or call (253) 761-5299 to learn more about how we can improve your quality of life!