One of the most commonly occurring sleep disorders affecting both children and adults, sleep apnea causes troubled breathing to the patients while asleep. A person suffering from sleep apnea suffers from abnormal breathing while they are asleep. This can either be in the form of short pauses in the breathing pattern or the total inability to breathe. When the breathing repeatedly stops during their sleep, this results in the body and brain not getting enough oxygen. When the breathing restarts, they may snort or awaken completely with smothering, gasping, or choking sensations.
In most cases, sleep apnea goes unnoticed. However, obstructive sleep apnea can be pretty apparent, as it makes the patient stay awake in the middle of sleep, often feeling traumatized and disturbed. It is important to treat sleep apnea while it is in the initial stage as it can lead to health issues such as hypertension, stroke, heart failure, and diabetes if left untreated.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Difficulty in concentration leading to irritability.
- Morning headaches.
- Dry mouth after waking up from sleep.
- Loud snoring.
- Sore throat.
- Reduced tolerance levels.
- Reduced sex drive.
- Fatigue and lethargy.
- Pauses while breathing during sleep.
- Inability to breathe, leading to sudden waking up gasping for air.
- Bruxism or teeth grinding.
- Increase in weight.
What are the different kinds of Sleep Apnea?
- Obstructive sleep apnea: This occurs when there is a physical blockage in the airways at the back of the throat, leading to temporary lapses in the breath.
- Central Sleep Apnea:This occurs when there is some concern with the brain's system that is responsible for controlling the muscles involved in respiration. It may result in slow, shallow breathing.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea:Mixed sleep apnea is the complex variant of the disease that occurs when a person is suffering from both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Role of dentistry in treating Sleep Apnea
Dentists can help to treat Sleep Apnea. A person diagnosed with the condition can consult a dentist to know more about various options available to treat the same. Your dentist may recommend using an oral appliance that can help ease mild to moderate sleep apnea symptoms.
Different kinds of dental devices available to treat sleep apnea.
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD): These devices look like a mouthguard. The device consists of metal hinges that hold the lower jaw during sleep. Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP) device will enable you to control the degree of advancement and is the most universally used dental device used to treat sleep apnea.
- Tongue retaining device:This device, with the help of the splint that holds the tongue in place, keeps the airway open, thus improving the quality of sleep.
Benefits of using dental devices for sleep apnea
Treating sleep apnea using dental devices can have the following benefits.
- It takes very less time for the patients to get adjusted to oral appliances.
- You can avoid risky surgeries using these dental devices to treat sleep apnea.
- It is a non-invasive procedure.
- Oral appliance therapies help patients gets relief from wearing a CPAP mask which can have some unpleasant side- effects.
- Oral devices to treat sleep apnea are simple to use, and because of their small size and design, it is easy to carry them when you travel.
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