Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is when normal breathing airways become restricted during sleep. OSA occurs when your anterior throat tissues relax so much they collapse into the airway soon after you fall asleep. Other possible causes of sleep apnea include having larger than normal tonsils and/or a tongue, being overweight (excess fat tissues may thicken your windpipe wall or having a neck shape that narrows the size of your airway. Aging may also produce obstructive sleep apnea symptoms when your brain's ability to process sleep signals decreases and your throat muscles do not remain stiff enough during sleep.
Sleep apnea can induce loud snoring, inhibited breathing and gasping for air every time a person falls asleep. Consequently, sleep apnea dramatically reduces the amount of sleep a person receives, which may also contribute to more serious health problems such as diabetes, heart conditions, metabolic disorder and tooth decay due to chronic dry mouth.
In addition to experiencing unusual daytime fatigue and difficulty concentrating, signs of possible sleep apnea include:
Less commonly diagnosed than obstructive sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which is a nervous system disorder involving the inability of the brain region responsible for initiating sleep to "tell" muscles to continue breathing during sleep. Another type called mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea that requires dual treatment methods to address both issues.
Even though dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea our Atlanta dentist does work with sleep doctors to create customized dental devices that prevent symptoms of sleep apnea such as the tongue and/or throat tissues from falling back into throat and interrupting breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea may involve your lower jaw being shorter than your upper jaw (retrognathia). Dentists may measure tonsil and adenoid size to determine whether they are contributing to airway blockage. If this is the case then our dentist would work in unison with a sleep doctor to create a customized plan of care.
Acrylic dental devices designed by our Atlanta dentist may restore normal positioning of your lower jaw or work as a tongue retention appliance to prevent the tongue from falling over the airway during sleep. By holding your lower jaw in a more forward position, a dental sleep apnea device prevents tissue collapse, significantly reduces snoring and improves the flow of air through your airway during sleep.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, call Peachtree Smile Center for treatment with a customized dental device provided by your Atlanta dentist. Contact us today at 404-620-2810.