The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that about 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, with 80% of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea being undiagnosed. There are several different types of sleep apnea, but they are all characterized by breathing that stops repeatedly throughout the night. Here at Summit Dental Group, we can give you information on sleep apnea and guide you through a treatment plan.
Since many of sleep apnea's symptoms occur without the person's knowledge, it is important to tell someone if you notice them having any. There are some symptoms of sleep apnea that are more obvious than others; snoring, episodes where you stop breathing while you are asleep, and gasping throughout the night. Other symptoms include dry mouth, headaches, insomnia, hypersomnia, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. These indicate that you are not getting enough sleep or your sleep is very low quality, because sleep apnea wakes you up throughout the night.
Questions to consider:
There are three different types of sleep apnea and their causes are slightly different. Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common type, is caused by your throat muscles relaxing. These support the soft palate, tonsils, side walls of the throat, and tongue. When they relax, the airway closes and your body will jolt awake to reopen your airway so you can breathe.
Central sleep apnea is a less common form. This occurs as a result of your brain failing to send signals to your muscles. So, any muscle typically involved in breathing shuts off for short periods of time.
Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both. Because of this, you may not realize that this is the cause until you begin treatment. A treatment method may only resolve symptoms arising from either obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea.
There are many treatments for sleep apnea and a lot of them can be done at home. One of the most common treatments is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. This is worn throughout the night and maintains air pressure to keep your airway open. There are other air pressure-based devices that people can use as well as oral appliances, supplemental oxygen, and adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV). ASV maintains airflow using pressure and records information about your sleeping into a computer. In addition, central sleep apnea may have roots in heart or neurological conditions which can be treated to eliminate the sleep apnea.
If you find that at-home methods are ineffective, you may need to seek more invasive medical intervention. Depending on the specific cause of your sleep apnea, some surgical methods would include tissue removal, tissue shrinkage, jaw repositioning, implants, nerve stimulation, and tracheostomy.
Tissue removal and shrinkage helps to create a more open space for air flow. Jaw repositioning is similar in that it moves your jaw forward to create a larger space. Implants, such as soft polyester or plastic rods, are placed in the soft palate after local anesthetic is administered. Nerve stimulation involves surgical insertion of a stimulator that forces the tongue to stay in a position that keeps the airway open. Tracheostomoy creates a new airway by making a hole in your neck and inserting a metal or plastic tube to help you breathe.
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If you would like information about sleep apnea or need to seek treatment, contact Summit Dental Group today. Our doctors partner with the specialists at TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Fort Wayne to ensure you can make informed decisions about your treatment.