How Your Dentist Can Diagnose Sleep Apnea
Today, obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting over 39 million American adults. Sleep apnea happens when the patient's breathing stops and starts at night. The patient may gasp and choke as they try to take a breath.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when tissue blocks the airway during sleep. It is more common in men, older patients, and those with excess weight. It can be dangerous because it frequently causes high blood pressure and lower oxygen levels in the body.
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea stems from blockages in the upper airway. These blockages may occur due to excess weight-related tissue or overly relaxed muscles. For example, the tongue may fall backward during sleep and block the airway.
Certain behavioral and medical issues can worsen obstructive sleep apnea. These factors include advanced age, hormone changes, family history, and cleft lip or palate. Patients with enlarged tonsils or a large tongue could encounter obstructive sleep apnea. Patients who smoke or consume alcohol may have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Breathing interruptions during sleep
- Loud snoring that often disturbs family members
- Observed episodes of gasping for air
- Daytime exhaustion, which can lead to attention, focus, and reaction time issues
- Dry mouth
How Your Care Team Diagnoses Sleep Apnea
If you have any of the symptoms above, it is a good idea to talk to your dentist about your risk of sleep apnea. Your dentist will work with your primary care physician to order a sleep study, where you will sleep in a laboratory setting. A sleep study can definitively diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.
You will return to your dentist for treatment after receiving a positive diagnosis and a thorough medical exam to check for complications.
Available Treatment Methods
For mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, changing habits such as consuming alcohol, quitting smoking, and trying to lose weight can help.
Queens Crown Dental offers custom-made sleep appliances that adjust the lower jaw in a forward position during sleep, preventing tissue from collapsing into the airway and blocking air.
If the oral appliance is ineffective, we can arrange CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) treatment using an at-home machine. Wearing a CPAP mask at night helps to keep the airway open by providing a constant stream of air.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea
What happens if I do not treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can endanger your physical health. If you have uncontrolled sleep apnea, you may be more likely to develop serious cardiac health conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Sleep apnea may also cause you to lose alertness during the day, potentially causing accidents.
How can I stop sleep apnea?
Using the treatment methods above should help a great deal. If they are not enough, surgical options may be available.
Call Queens Crown Dental
If you feel your snoring is excessive or have encountered other symptoms, do not hesitate to call us for a sleep apnea evaluation. We can answer your questions and help you toward healthier sleep. Please call our Honolulu, HI, office at 808-526-2800 for an appointment today.