Sleep apnea is a commonly experienced sleep disorder. Patients with sleep apnea often have trouble sleeping well at night due to frequent interruptions in their breathing patterns. In most cases, the patients wouldn’t even know that they suffer from sleep apnea, which could delay the initiation of treatment. Though it may seem harmless, the symptoms of sleep apnea tend to grow more severe over time and can significantly affect an individual’s everyday routine.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep cum oral condition caused due to the frequent interruptions in the patient’s breathing. This is caused due to the partial or complete blockage of the patient’s airway, making them wake up in the middle of their sleep, often feeling traumatized. In minor cases of sleep apnea, the patient experiences short pauses in breathing, which may go unnoticed. However, the patients’ bedmate would indeed notice this as it is quite apparent.
What are the types of sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea: OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused due to the blockage of the airway by the collapse of the roof of the throat. The muscles of the body relax when you sleep, and in patients with sleep apnea, the tissues in the throat may relax a tad too much. This causes their collapse, which can cut off the supply of oxygen to the lungs.
Central sleep apnea: CSA or Central Sleep Apnea is caused due to the malfunction of the brain, which may fail to signal the lungs to inhale at the right time. Due to this, the patient’s lungs would be deprived of air, making them wake up with a sudden jolt and disrupting their peaceful sleep.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Minor cases of sleep apnea are treatable by making a few changes to one’s everyday routine. Some of the necessary changes are:
- Cutting down on the consumption of beverages, caffeine, etc.
- Quitting smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and the consumption of alcohol
- Including healthier foods in one’s diet, such as fruits, vegetables, etc.
- Losing weight, as this helps to expand the opening to the airway
- Having smaller meals for dinner
- Making subtle changes to the sleeping positions
- Using a thinner pillow to sleep
In any case, it is best to get the condition diagnosed by a doctor. Once you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist may suggest oral appliances to counter the condition if it is severe. A popularly recommended oral appliance is the MAD or Mandibular Advancement Device. It is custom-fabricated according to each patient’s condition and has to be worn before going to bed. The device helps to bring the lower jaw forward and keeps the roof of the throat from collapsing, thereby keeping the airway open at all times.
Patients with extreme cases of sleep apnea could benefit from a CPAP device. It helps to maintain a continuous positive airway pressure, which supplies the necessary oxygen to the lungs and keeps the roof of the throat from collapsing.
Please do reach out to us on call or by scheduling an online consultation with our dental professionals, and we’ll be glad to assist you further.