Do you find that you are still tired and irritable even after you've seemingly had a full night's sleep? You may be suffering from sleep apnea. Our dentists in Surrey talk about how sleep apnea can affect your body and how a dental professional may be able to help.
How does sleep apnea affect your physical and mental health?
Sleep apnea gets its name from the apneas, or breathing pauses, that one experiences while they are sleeping. These breathing pauses can last a few seconds to a few minutes and can happen up to 30 times (or more) per night. After each pause, normal breathing resumes, typically there would be some type of sound, choking or something similar as you begin to breathe normally again.
Breathing problems, as you might expect, can disrupt your sleep and lead to a variety of complications that can harm your overall health, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. Sleep apnea has the ability to develop into more serious concerns affecting your entire body.
What are the different types of sleep apnea experienced by patients?
Unfortunately, it is common for the signs of sleep apnea to be missed during routine checkups due to the lack of obvious signs. Generally, the physical signs of sleep apnea are first felt by the patient themselves and reported to their physician or dentist.
Mild Sleep Apnea
If a patient experiences mild sleep apnea the treatment and management options are usually pretty simple from dental appliances to weight management options.
Your dentist may make any of these recommendations and if possible provide you with direct access to the tools or contact information needed to begin treatment.
Severe Sleep Apnea
Dentists typically advise patients with severe sleep apnea to use CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Continuous positive airway pressure, which uses air pressure to keep the airway open while you sleep, is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Another sleep apnea treatment option is Inspire therapy. This may be a good option for patients who are unable or unwilling to benefit from CPAP consistently.
Inspire monitors your breathing while you sleep and sends mild stimulation to the nerve that controls the movement of your tongue and other muscles in your airway to keep it open.
While a dentist is unable to diagnose sleep apnea, they can spot the signs and refer you to your primary physician for a proper diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed, some dental clinics offer oral appliances that can help manage the symptoms of sleep apnea and protect your teeth in the process.
While our dental clinic does not offer treatment using dental appliances, we are proud to be able to spread awareness for conditions such as sleep apnea through these informational blog posts. If our dentists spot any potential concerns during your routine visit that may require specialized care we will share this with you and offer the appropriate referrals.