What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing during the night when you’re asleep. Apneas are pauses in your breathing that can wake you up or disturb your sleep. You may have dozens to hundreds of apneas a night.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is caused by a physical blockage to your airway. You may have OSA if you have large tonsils, a recessed jaw, or if you’re overweight.
A less common type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send signals to your lungs reminding them to breathe while you sleep. Some people have a combination of OSA and central sleep apnea.
How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. Your snoring may be severe enough to wake you up or wake up a partner who sleeps near you. Other symptoms include:
- Gagging in your sleep
- Waking up multiple times a night
- Waking up with a sore throat
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Brain fog
- Anxious or irritable mood
- Falling asleep while driving
You’re also more likely to have accidents if you have sleep apnea because you do not get the rest you need.
Why do I have sleep apnea?
Nobody knows exactly why central sleep apnea develops. However, OSA usually stems from anatomical features, including an overly large tongue or tonsils. You’re also at increased risk for OSA if you:
- Are overweight
- Have a recessed jaw
- Have a deviated septum
- Have a large neck
Losing weight can sometimes resolve or improve your sleep apnea.
Why should I treat sleep apnea?
Although snoring may seem more like a nuisance than a health issue, sleep apnea can be a life-threatening condition.
If your brain and other organs don’t get the oxygen they need while you’re sleeping, you’re at increased risk for serious complications, including heart attack and stroke.
How do dentists treat sleep apnea?
If you have OSA, your RenovaSmiles dentist fits you with a custom-designed oral appliance that you wear while you sleep. The appliance moves your jaw forward so that your tongue and other tissues don’t block your airway.
To treat your sleep apnea simply and easily without CPAP or medication, contact your nearest RenovaSmiles office for an evaluation and oral appliance fitting. Call the friendly office staff or book an appointment at your own convenience with the online form.