A good night’s sleep helps us stay energized throughout the day with a clear mind. There are times, however, when factors out of our control keep us away from good sleep. Perhaps we abruptly wake up multiple times a night, unable to breathe. Or perhaps our sleep is compromised by the loud snoring of a family member. Either of these scenarios could point to sleep apnea, an increasingly-common medical condition that affects a person’s breathing while they try to slumber.
You might wonder: how could a dentist assist with such a medical condition? First, let’s discuss the details of sleep apnea, and then how the Sacramento dentists at the Marconi Dental Group can help.
What is Sleep Apnea?
When a person has sleep apnea, their airflow is obstructed or blocked. The muscles in the back of the throat relax and close off the airway, so they cannot breathe. This can last for ten seconds or more. The brain reacts to this by waking a person up to contract those muscles, opening the airway again (they are usually barely conscious, if at all). In severe cases, this waking up process, called micro-arousals, could happen as much as 50 times in an hour. Under these conditions, getting a good night’s sleep is nearly impossible.
If the airway is only partially open, the muscles and tissues in the throat vibrate against each other. The result is snoring. Snoring can be mild, but can also be loud enough to wake others, keeping them from getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep apnea is a serious threat to a person’s health – not just because of sleep deprivation or hypoxia, but it is also linked to heart conditions, behavioral health, and other issues.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
Snoring and abrupt waking are only two symptoms that could point to sleep apnea. Others are:
- Excessive fatigue during the day
- Confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty in concentrating, “brain fog”
- Irritability, frequent frustration
- Accident-prone behavior
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
If someone displays just some of these symptoms, they should consult a doctor or one of the dentists at the Marconi Dental Group as soon as they can. Our practice can provide an initial diagnosis, suggest dental treatments, and provide referrals to doctors specializing in more serious cases of sleep apnea.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist at the Marconi Dental Group evaluates the severity of your condition. One possible treatment consists of an oral appliance specifically designed to advance the lower jaw, pulling the tongue forward while you sleep. This appliance is often opens the airways just enough to prevent obstruction, thereby significantly reducing snoring. It’s also less intrusive than breathing devices or surgery.
If you suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from sleep apnea, a better night’s sleep could begin with a simple phone call. Please contact the Marconi Dental Group or use our online form to schedule a consultation.
Video Overview: Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This video provides an overview of obstructive sleep apnea and the serious and dangerous complications to your overall health that can result if it is left untreated.