Nearly 30 million adults in the United States suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can impact your health and general well-being. At Presidential Dental Group, the leading dental practice in Washington, DC, the team can help you manage your sleep apnea so you can enjoy a restful sleep at night. Call their office or schedule an appointment online today if you think you or a loved one might be suffering from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that affects your breathing when you sleep. It causes repeated pauses in your breathing, which can reduce your oxygen levels and interrupt your sleep.
Ideally, you should experience fewer than five breathing pauses per hour when sleeping, but with sleep apnea, these pauses can occur up to several hundred times per night, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. As a result, your brain — and the rest of your body — can be deprived of healthy amounts of oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central:
OSA is the most common form of apnea. It’s caused by a blockage of your airway when the soft tissue in the back of your throat collapses during sleep.
With central sleep apnea, your airway isn’t blocked, but your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe. This occurs as a result of instability in your respiratory control center.
Common signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. When left untreated, other symptoms include:
Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men but can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway, or misaligned jaw can all increase your risk for sleep apnea. Recently, research has also shown a connection between temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and sleep apnea.
The team may recommend oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea when a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine isn’t effective. You only wear the oral appliance while you sleep and it fits like a sports mouthguard or orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances are quiet, portable, and easy to maintain.
Two oral appliances that help with sleep apnea are mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue retaining devices (TRDs). MADs look similar to mouthguards and are the most popular dental treatment for sleep apnea. They gently force your lower jaw forward and down to keep your airways open so it's easier to breathe at night. TRDs are dental splints that hold your tongue in place to help keep your airways open.
Your Presidential Dental Group dentist may also recommend an orthodontic treatment called rapid maxillary expansion. During this procedure, they apply a screw device to your upper teeth to lessen nasal pressure and improve your breathing. For those suffering from sleep apnea as a result of TMJ disorder, neuromuscular therapy can help balance your bite by relaxing your jaw muscles, thereby reducing your risk of sleep apnea episodes.
Call Presidential Dental Group or schedule an appointment online today to learn more if you have sleep apnea.