You might not think to ask your Atlanta dentist about your snoring or daytime fatigue, but sleep apnea is a condition that can often be treated here at Peachtree Smile Center. Here are answers to some frequently asked sleep apnea questions.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which normal sleep processes or capabilities are impaired during sleep. Sufferers may actually stop breathing many times during the night without even realizing it.
There are different types of sleep apnea, each stemming from different causes. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to send the correct signals to the breathing muscles. Obstructive sleep apnea (the kind treated by our Atlanta dentist) occurs when the jaw, tongue, excess skin or other obstructions close off the airway at the back of the oral cavity. You can also have a mix of both conditions.
Snoring is an audible signal that the tissue at the back of the oral cavity has relaxed to the point that it is making contact with itself. The semi-obstructed passage of air through the tissue causes the tissue to vibrate, resulting in snoring.
In addition to snoring, you may feel constantly sleep derived and groggy if you have sleep apnea. You may also experience headaches in the morning, cognitive problems, crankiness, sore throat and mouth dryness.
Sleep apnea has been associated with high blood pressure, heart and liver problems, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, acid reflux, erectile dysfunction and increased risk of post-surgical complications.
Unfortunately, dentists are not qualified to diagnose a case of sleep apnea. If you believe you have this condition, you should get a formal diagnosis from a doctor who specializes in sleep problems. We can also refer you to a sleep study so your possible apnea can be evaluated under controlled conditions.
Once you've been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, our Atlanta dentist can fit you with a customized dental mouthpiece to help keep the airway open as you sleep. Some mouthpieces shift the jaw slightly forward or prevent it from slipping backward. Others use gentle reverse pressure to keep the tongue forward in the mouth so it can't block the throat.
Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe weight loss, medication, positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy and other medical treatment options.