Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing and partial or complete blockage of the airway during sleep. These pauses in breathing are usually preceded by snoring too, and can occur many times a night. A choking or snorting sound can also occur as breathing resumes. There are two types of sleep apnea – Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.

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Obstructive sleep apnea: Sleep apnea occurs because the airway is not fully open. Most often, the blockage is caused when the muscles of the throat relax, causing a partial or complete obstruction of the airflow in and out of the lungs. This results in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is generally treatable through non-invasive dental treatments.

Central sleep apnea:This condition is caused due to interrupted signals between the brain and the breathing muscles due to the brain’s malfunction while signaling the lungs to inhale air on time. This condition can’t be treated with dentistry and will require the help of a physician or somnologist.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Although it needs the diagnosis by a doctor to know if you have sleep apnea, the symptoms that indicate it may be time to place a visit to your physician include:

  • Frequent headaches in the morning
  • Frequent pauses in the breathing pattern
  • Absence of deep sleep
  • Blockage of the airway during sleep due to which the patient would often encounter breathing issues
  • Extreme tiredness and drowsiness
  • Inability to concentrate well
  • Problems with memory
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Bruxism or clenching the jaw during sleep
  • TMJ disorder

How can sleep apnea be treated?

If you think you suffer from sleep apnea, you can visit your sleep specialist or a doctor to get the condition diagnosed. They will conduct a sleep test to understand your situation’s severity by closely monitoring your vitals, eye movement, and body movement patterns while you sleep.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, we will suggest bringing about a few changes in your everyday lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, reducing the consumption of foods with saturated fats to reduce weight, etc.

The best way to treat sleep apnea is to prevent the collapse of tissues from the throat, thus avoiding the airway’s blockage. For this, we will recommend an oral appliance called the mandibular advancement device (MAD). It is a mouthguard-like appliance. When the patient puts it on before going to sleep, it allows the lower jaw to be moved forward, thus expanding the airway opening, enabling easy air movement while inhaling and exhaling. Also, it prevents the roof of the throat from collapsing.

If the condition is severe, we may recommend a CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This device provides a continuous supply of oxygen to the lungs using a pressurized oxygen cylinder and a comfortably fitting face mask. The patient will be asked to wear it before going to sleep. CPAP device maintains a positive pressure in the airway, thus preventing its blockage. Also, with the help of this device, the lungs receive an adequate supply of oxygen.

At Wellness Centered Dentistry, Raymond Hsu, DDS, MAGD, LLSR, performs sleep apnea device fittings for patients in the Redmond, Washington, area. To learn more, call us or use the online booking tool today to set up an appointment with Dr. Hsu.