You've slept a full night, so why do you feel like you haven't slept at all? It could be sleep apnea. Our dentists in Fort St. John explain what sleep apnea is and share some of the effects of sleep apnea, both mentally and physically.
How does sleep apnea affect the body?
If you suffer from sleep apnea then you experience a number of pauses while you are sleeping. These little pauses are called apneas, which is how the condition gets its name. 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, when left untreated, can cause a number of serious health complications.
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
Unfortunately, it is common for the signs of sleep apnea to be missed during routine checkups due to the lack of obvious signs. Commonly, the first signs of sleep apnea are noticed by the patient who may then mention them to their dentist of primary physician.
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.
Diagnosing & Treating Sleep Apnea
A dentist is not able to diagnose sleep apnea, but if they spot the signs or you mention related symptoms they will recommend that you speak with your primary physician. Your physician will be able to perform an examination and offer a 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.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes only and Fort St. John Dental Clinic does not provide treatment for sleep apnea.