Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. A person suffering from sleep apnea does not get sufficient oxygen at night because they stop breathing multiple times while asleep. When their breathing becomes interrupted, they fail to get adequate rest because their brain, deprived of oxygen, needs to gently rouse them numerous times throughout the night. Unfortunately, the sleep apnea sufferer does not remember the numerous waking episodes and may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted at all. The constant oxygen deprivation while sleeping is a serious threat to overall health and can be deadly if left untreated.
Sleep apnea is, generally speaking, caused by the soft tissues of the tongue and throat obstructing (blocking) the airway during sleep. Men and people who are heavier or overweight are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, although anyone can have sleep apnea due to the natural shape of the inside of their nose and throat. The most commonly observed feature amongst sleep apnea sufferers is loud persistent snoring. Often, sleep apnea is caught because the partner or roommate of the sufferer complains that they should have their snoring checked by a doctor.
CPAP therapy, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy, is often recommended for sleep apnea sufferers. A CPAP machine, complete with mask, blows air into the airway of the sleeper all night, keeping the tissues of the back of the mouth and throat from collapsing onto themselves. The problem with CPAP is that the machines are bulky, sometimes loud, and generally require electricity to operate. Many CPAP users also report discomfort from wearing a mask all night while trying to sleep. This can cause patients to discontinue therapy against doctor’s orders. A therapy you are not using is, of course, no therapy at all.
We can help some sleep apnea sufferers with their sleep without a loud, uncomfortable CPAP machine. We can fit you with a mouthguard in office that repositions your jaw while you sleep to help keep your airway open. The more comfortable mouthguard you use is far more effective against sleep apnea than the bulky uncomfortable CPAP machine you won’t use.
Treating sleep apnea at your dentist’s office can greatly improve your quality of life by improving your quality of sleep.