An estimated 25 million U.S. adults have sleep apnea. And of that number about 80% go undiagnosed. Exactly what is sleep apnea? What are the signs, symptoms, and dangers associated with it? And how can it be treated?
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea is a Greek word that means “without breath.” The disorder causes your breathing to be briefly and repeatedly interrupted while you sleep. The most common type of this disorder is obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of a narrowed or blocked airway. While you are asleep, muscles in your mouth, as well as your tongue and throat relax. Your tongue falls on your soft palate, which in turn falls on the back of your throat and obstructs your airway. The obstruction leads to snoring, interferes with your sleep, and contributes to low blood-oxygen levels. These factors can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, mood disorders, and memory problems.
Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment
There are many signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. If you or a loved one has them, early detection can be lifesaving.
Signs and Symptoms
- Loud snoring
- Excessive weight gain
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Extreme sleepiness during the day, which may include falling asleep at work, while driving, or during other activities
- Dry or sore throat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Memory or concentration problems
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to the following medical conditions:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
At Williams Family Dentistry, our dentists treat sleep apnea with oral appliances, including Silent Nite® by Glidewell. If you wear the appliance while you sleep, it will position your jaw forward and open your airway. This allows you to breathe without snoring or choking so you can get a good night’s rest.
What can you expect from the oral appliance?
- Customization – We will take impressions of your mouth for a custom-made appliance that fits well.
- Comfort – Silent Nite is thin and flexible. You don’t have to worry about trying to sleep with a bulky appliance in your mouth.
- Convenience – After you receive the appliance, if you’re still snoring, you will be able to replace the connectors on the side of it to move your jaw farther forward. It’s easy to switch to a new set of connectors. And you can do it at home without a visit to our office. When you receive the appliance, we’ll also give you connectors of varying lengths and show you how to change them if necessary.
If you think that sleep apnea might be the cause of your, or a loved one’s, symptoms, contact us to schedule an appointment for an exam.