How Dentists Can Help Your Sleep Apnea

You know it's important to get eight hours of sleep every night. So you go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up at the same time in the morning. But you still feel sleepy throughout the day. Your partner has also been complaining that you snore loudly when you sleep. 

You could have sleep apnea, which interrupts your sleep and potentially your partner's too. If you're tired of being tired, your dentist can help you get the sleep you need.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that causes you to wake up repeatedly throughout the night. When you have sleep apnea, you temporarily stop breathing while you sleep. Your brain panics and sends a signal to wake you up, so you start breathing again. You probably aren't even consciously aware that you're waking up repeatedly, but your body feels the effects. You may wake up 30 times in one hour if you have severe sleep apnea.

Signs You Have Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea often don't realize they have a problem until they start to notice a decline in their quality of life or their health or when their partners start complaining about loud snoring. 

Eventually, you may get a few signs that something's up, such as:

  • Feeling exhausted when you wake up, even if you think you got a good night's sleep.
  • Headaches, especially first thing in the morning.
  • Sleepiness throughout the day.
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Difficulty remembering things or focusing.

If you share a bed or bedroom with another person, they may notice that you stop breathing occasionally while you sleep. They may also hear you snore throughout the night.

Why Treat Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is more than snoring. It affects your quality of life and can have long-term health consequences if left untreated. The condition increases the risk of cardiovascular problems due to increased pressure on the blood vessels. Without treatment, sleep apnea increases your risk for heart attacks, heart failure and stroke. It also increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Since sleep apnea can make you sleepy and drowsy during the day, it also brings with it the risk of injury due to sleepiness. You may fall asleep while behind the wheel or in or when operating machinery.

Who Can Treat Sleep Apnea?

You may not think of your dentist when you think of snoring and sleep problems. But the position of your jaw can play a role in preventing or contributing to sleep apnea. Your dentist can fit you for a sleep apnea mouth guard that keeps your airway open while you sleep. 

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

You can treat sleep apnea to keep it from interfering with your life, but you can't cure it. You'll need treatment for the rest of your life, which is why it's important to choose a treatment that works for you and is comfortable.

A common sleep apnea treatment uses a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. You wear the CPAP machine while you sleep. It has a mask that covers your mouth, nose or both. The machine increases the pressure of air in your airway, preventing you from stopping breathing at night. While CPAP is a common treatment option, many people find the machines uncomfortable to wear.

For some patients, making lifestyle changes can help prevent sleep apnea symptoms. People above the weight recommended for their body type may find that their sleep apnea resolves after losing about 10% of their body weight. Some people may notice an improvement if they try sleeping in a different position, such as on their side or stomach, not their back.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Without CPAP

Your dentist can help you treat sleep apnea without using a CPAP machine. Instead of getting fitted for a bulky machine, your dentist can fit you for a device that looks like a mouth guard. The dental appliance gently pushes your lower jaw forward, keeping your airway open while you sleep. The device is customized to fit your mouth, making it comfortable. Its small size makes it much more convenient than a CPAP machine.

Once you get your sleep apnea under control, you'll feel less sleepy and more energetic during the day. You may also feel less anxious and more focused. Perhaps most importantly, your partner will stop complaining about your snoring.

Talk to your dentist if you're worried about sleep apnea. A better night's sleep and a brighter morning is just a consultation away. Contact Liberty Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment today.

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