When sleep apnea disrupts your days and wreaks havoc on your nights, your first instinct probably isn’t to make an appointment with your dentist.
In this article, Dr. Ryan Fait and our team at Southern California General & Cosmetic Dentistry, located in Long Beach and Avalon, California, shed light on how essential dentists are when it comes to treating sleep apnea.
The basics of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea (namely obstructive sleep apnea) occurs when your throat muscles relax as you sleep. These muscles are essential as they support the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, side wall of the throat, and tongue.
As the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes completely, making it nearly impossible for you to get enough air. That lowers the amount of oxygen in your blood, which triggers a reaction in your brain to rouse you from sleep and reopen your airway.
You might find yourself snorting, choking, or gasping for air as you’re suddenly woken from your dreams. Sometimes, this pattern can repeat itself upwards of 30 times an hour.
The result? A fitful night that spills over into the day. Most people with sleep apnea experience:
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headaches
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Trouble concentrating
These daytime disturbances are frustrating and debilitating, but they’re actually the least of your worries. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a wide range of significant health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart problems, and type 2 diabetes.
Loud snoring is typically the first sign of sleep apnea, but not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. Get help for sleep apnea if you notice any of the symptoms we listed or identify with common risk factors, including excess weight, chronic nasal congestion, or thick neck circumference.
Our role in sleep apnea treatment
Although sleep apnea is a significant problem, there’s hope in treatment — and you find it in the dentist’s chair.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, the best action is to keep your airway open while you sleep. We help you do this with oral appliances. Oral appliances are custom-made devices worn at night. They gently hold your jaw in the optimal position for easy breathing.
Even if your throat muscles relax, your airways remain open, allowing you to get much-deserved sleep.
More ways to tackle sleep apnea
In addition to being fitted for an oral device, you can manage sleep apnea by making some simple lifestyle adjustments.
For example, losing weight, quitting smoking, and changing your sleeping position can go a long way in helping you breathe easier and keep your airway open while you sleep.
Ready to take your first steps toward a restful night? Call our friendly staff or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at either our Long Beach or Avalon, California, offices today.