We are open - safety is our top priority!
Posted on: February 3, 2023
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Many of your body’s processes slow or shut down as you sleep, but breathing shouldn’t be one of them. Millions of people all over the world struggle with this common sleep condition, and the constant episodes of not breathing can really drag you down during waking hours. Sleep apnea happens when something stops your body from being able to maintain its normal respiration during times when you are asleep. If you suspect that you have this condition, then don’t worry. You’ll find that it is possible to manage your symptoms when you talk to your dentist in Miami and work with your doctor to create a treatment plan that fits your needs.
What Is the Reason Behind Sleep Apnea?
There are several different reasons why sleep apnea occurs, but most of them are linked to the way that some people’s airways close up once they relax. If you sleep on your back, then your tongue and oral tissues can fall backwards with the forces of gravity where they create an airway obstruction.
Once your body realizes that it isn’t breathing, your central nervous system will send a signal to wake you up. This period of waking is usually very brief, and you might not fully awaken. Then, you’ll fall back to a deep sleep again which can reinitiate the same airway blocking response. Multiple disrupted breathing episodes can occur over the course of an hour, and they can continue until you finally wake up for the day.
Can You Decrease Your Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Knowing why you might get this disorder can help you focus on finding ways to decrease your risk for interrupted breathing as you sleep. Here are a few risk factors for sleep apnea to know about.
- Being middle-age or older, although kids can still develop sleep apnea
- Carrying excess weight
- Taking strong medications with drowsiness or sedation as a side effect
- Having COPD, other respiratory conditions or heart disease
Are There Specific Sleep Apnea Symptoms?
Sleep apnea is a sneaky condition because you might not remember those brief episodes of waking up. While dealing with excessive daytime sleepiness from those wakings might not seem like good news, it could be if it is the clue that causes you to seek a consultation with your doctor and dentist in Miami. A few other common symptoms include the following:
- Being unable to think through complicated problems
- Dealing with new episodes of short-term memory loss
- Having unusual mood swings or bouts of general moodiness
- Feeling like you never went to sleep when you wake up
- Sleeping through your alarm
- Hearing from someone else that you snore loudly or sputter in your sleep
Is Sleep Apnea Classified Into Different Types?
Sleep doctors tend to classify sleep apnea according to the cause of your condition. If you have a blockage in your airway, then you’ll be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. If your brain just checks out for a bit while you sleep, then you’ll receive a central apnea sleep diagnosis.
With central apnea, your brain will not tell your body to breathe for some reason. This is usually because of another co-existing health condition that limits the brain’s ability to detect low oxygen levels or send a signal to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by having issues that affect your mouth or throat. For example, you might have oversized adenoids or tonsils that are more likely to block your throat than smaller ones. Kids sometimes have temporary sleep apnea episodes when their tonsils get enlarged from a throat infection and block their airway.
What Are Typical Treatments for Sleep Apnea?
The most common treatments for sleep apnea are aimed at treating the physical causes that are sometimes evident from just assessing your health and lifestyle. Most doctors and dentists recommend starting with the least invasive treatment possible. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, then simply learning how to sleep on your side can provide instant relief. This stops gravity’s pull on your soft oral tissues once they muscles start to relax that makes them fall backwards. Although the soft tissues will still move once they relax, they’ll move to the side rather than onto your airway.
You might need to make a few other more serious lifestyle changes. Making an effort to lose weight can reduce the fatty deposits in your neck that fill up your windpipe. Smoking can improve respiration in general, and it can stop inflammation in your throat that further exacerbates sleep apnea. If you take certain medications that could be stopping your brain from communication with your respiratory system, then you might need to talk to your doctor about changing to a new kind or taking them at different times.
Special kinds of dental appliances are another less invasive option compared to other types, and you’ll use one of these at night to help support your oral tissues and jaw. Preventing the backwards movement of these tissues can help to keep your airway clear, and you might prefer to use these before moving on to other more invasive treatments.
A CPAP machine isn’t as invasive as surgery, but some people find that there is a sharp learning curve to wearing a mask as they sleep. A CPAP machine is designed to use slight pressure to force air through your windpipe without causing discomfort or pain. Instead, the gentle pressure holds the airway open, much like you see when you blow into a balloon.
Can a Dentist in Miami Help With Sleep Apnea Management?
Dentists have the unique experience of working with the exact tissues that impact your breathing at night. Your tongue, jaw structure, and the tissues in the back of your throat all play a role in obstructive sleep apnea. Wearing a special dental appliance at night can move these parts of your upper respiratory system into the proper places, which helps you to continue to breathe.
Does the prospect of solving your sleep apnea problems without surgery sound intriguing? Your dentist in Miami can help you make sure that your new dental appliance fits properly and provides you with the positive benefits you need to finally look forward to getting to sleep again.