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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is usually characterized by recurrent pauses in breathing while sleeping and it can be a life-threatening problem. According to the Greek etymology, sleep apnea means “without breath.” Continuous disruption in breathing results in an imbalance between the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream, as the amount of oxygen entering the body and carbon dioxide exiting the body are insufficient.

With this imbalance, the brain signals the body, instructing it to wake and restart the breathing process. People suffering from this condition will normally awake due to their struggle to breathe, and this is usually followed by choking sensation or snoring. Because sufferers of sleep apnea are not usually completely awake during the snoring, they are often not aware of the condition and it may remain undiagnosed.

This disorder can occur in two forms; central sleep apnea which is as a result of the brain not sending important signals to the breathing muscles, obstructive sleep apnea which is as a result of air not flowing through the mouth or nose even with the body trying to breathe.  Obstructive sleep apnea is more common and can be treated by the dentist easily.

Obstructive sleep apnea is commonly characterized by sleepiness in the daytime, severe early morning headaches, and insomnia. Fortunately, the dentist has access to a range of options and technology when it comes to treating sleep apnea in various ways.

Reason for treating sleep apnea

It is important to consult a medical professional once there a suspicion of sleep apnea. The breathing of a sufferer can cease completely several times in one hour, and this can be a potentially dangerous situation. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the patient’s throat falls into the airway. Oxygen is then prevented from entering the lungs as a result of the tongue falling towards the back of the throat and tightening the blockage.

The problem is exacerbated when the abdomen, diaphragm, and the chest region compete for air. As they struggle for vital oxygen the blockage becomes tighter. The sufferer will need to arouse from sleep to tense the tongue and get rid of the tissue from the airway.

Because sleep apnea results in a decrease in the level of oxygen and an increase in the level of carbon dioxide, the heart has to increase its speed and pressure to make up for the insufficient oxygen. Sleep apnea is associated with a range of severe heart-related issues and must be examined by the dentist as early as possible.

What does sleep apnea treatment involve?

First, the dentist conducts a series of tests in order to diagnose and choose an appropriate treatment. The dentist can pick from several treatment options depending on the diagnosis and the nature of the patient’s health. The patient may be advised to limit certain habits that trigger sleep apnea such as tranquilizer use, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

Patients were traditionally given sleeping masks to keep their airways open while they slept, but today there some options that are not so intrusive. Dental appliances that slowly tease the lower jaw forward help to prevent the tongue from obstructing the main air passage. These appliances are easy to wear, gentle, and often helps to eradicate the need for surgeries.

Having surgery that sections the lower jaw and helps in pulling out the bone that holds the tongue a bit forward is a more permanent solution. The success rate of the surgery tends to be impressive and it can be performed easily by the oral surgeon or dentist. The dentist needs to diagnose the case of each individual so as to be able to recommend the treatment.

If you think sleep apnea treatment may be right for you, contact our practice immediately.

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