Is snoring wrecking your sleep? Do you constantly find yourself awake at night, losing valuable sleep, listening to your spouse gasping for air? Not only is sleep apnea annoying and exhausting but it is life threatening. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to increased stroke, heart disease, mood disorders, lack of concentration, and poor mental function.
Sleep apnea is a nighttime breathing disorder that affects 15-20 million Americans. The condition is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, usually due to an airway collapse. During the collapse patients are unable to intake air and therefore struggle to breathe. In order to resume breathing properly the brain must trigger the patient to awaken. These frequent awakenings can occur 20-30 times per hour resulting in devastating health problems. Sleep apnea affects men and women of all ages including children.
The most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring characterized by pauses in breathing followed by gasping or choking for air. Many patients do not realize they are suffering from this condition even though they awaken hundreds of times during the night because they do not enter a complete state of wakefulness. Most patients learn of their interrupted sleep patterns by a partner or they seek medical attention for other related symptoms:
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Forgetfulness or mood changes
- Irritability or depression
The most widely used treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). This treatment consists of a mask the patient wears at night that pumps a continuous stream of air into the patient’s airway, opening the collapsed muscles. Other treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.
Many patients also seek help from their dental provider. There are several dental devices that can aid in the treatment of sleep apnea.
- Mandibular advancement device- This is the most commonly used dental device to treat sleep apnea. This device which is similar to a sports mouth guard is worn at night and aids in positioning the mouth in such a way that the airway remains open while in use.
- Tongue retraining device- A splint that holds the tongue in place to allow the airway to stay open.
Improve your quality of sleep as well as your partners. Contact Axiom Dentistry today to find out how a dental device can help you get a better night’s sleep!