Does your bedmate often nudge you to stop you from snoring at night? Do you ever wake up gasping for air? Are you tired throughout the day despite getting eight hours of rest? These are all signs of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that affects an estimated 22 million Americans, up to 80 percent of whom are undiagnosed. Learn more about sleep apnea and how your dentist can help treat it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. You may stop breathing for several seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times each night. This prevents your brain—and the rest of your body—from getting the oxygen it needs.
The health complications of untreated sleep apnea range from annoying to potentially life-threatening. These complications may include heart disease, stroke, blood pressure issues, diabetes, memory difficulties, and low energy levels.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Watch for signs of sleep apnea in yourself and ask your bedmate to report any symptoms they notice. These may include:
- Loud snoring
- Choking or gasping sounds while sleeping
- Restless sleep
- Morning headaches
- Daytime tiredness
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
Treating Sleep Apnea
You have several options for getting sleep apnea under control. Here’s what to try.
If you show any symptoms of sleep apnea, try making these lifestyle changes:
- Eat healthier and exercise more to help you lose weight. Reducing the amount of fatty tissue in your throat can help open up your airway.
- Avoid nightcaps and sleeping pills, even if you’re tired. Alcohol and soporific drugs relax the muscles in your throat, leading to snoring and worsened sleep apnea.
- Sleep on your side rather than your back to help keep your airway open.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine treats moderate to severe sleep apnea. A mask goes over your mouth and/or nose while you sleep, and the machine gently blows air into your throat to help keep your airway open.
Most people don’t realize the complexity of dentistry compared to general medicine. Dentists are well-rounded experts and combine the skills of several medical professionals into one. Their ability to treat sleep apnea is an example of this.
Dr. Simon Kappel of Beyond Dentistry Laser Center in Brooklyn, NY can fit you with a custom oral appliance designed to hold your lower jaw and tongue forward while you sleep. This simple device keeps your airway open and prevents sleep apnea. Many patients who find CPAP machines intolerable are pleased by how comfortable oral appliances are to wear.
Dr. Kappel can test your oxygen levels now and again in six months to measure your improvement. Even if you feel the benefits of a good night’s rest in your day-to-day life, it’s still gratifying to see your oxygen levels improve! Contact Beyond Dentistry Laser Center at 718-436-0202 to begin your life-enhancing—even life-saving—sleep apnea treatment today.