Sleep Apnea Treatment

The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles of the throat relax. A dentist may need to be seen to assist in the treatment of this condition, one which is often marked by drowsiness during the day and loud snoring at night.

The Effects Of Sleep Apnea

When a person suffers from sleep apnea, they are at risk of low blood oxygen levels and often lack the sleep needed to function correctly throughout the day. This may bring about fatigue, accidents at work, anxiety, and more.

Individuals with high blood pressure may find their condition worsens if they suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, and those with diabetes find they are more at risk of this condition. People who are overweight are more at risk of sleep apnea, and this condition makes it harder to lose weight. Treatment should be sought promptly for those who may be at risk.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Many individuals show symptoms of sleep apnea, though they may not realize it. Often a loved one may complain about the loud snoring of the individual, which may signify a larger issue. Others report choking while sleeping or gasping for air, as reported by their loved ones. People who wake up with a headache every morning may suffer from sleep apnea, and those who have memory issues may be lacking sleep as a result of apnea.

A dry mouth or sore throat every morning can be a sign of sleep apnea, along with restless moving during sleep. Individuals who get up repeatedly in the night to go to the bathroom may be suffering from sleep apnea, and the same is true of those who wake up at night from snoring or because they lack air. If you have any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor or dentist to determine if sleep apnea may be the issue.

The Types Of Sleep Apnea

There are three basic types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea remains the most common and occurs when the throat muscles relax while a person sleeps. These muscles support the structures of the mouth, such as the tonsils and soft palate. When they relax, the airway closes down, temporarily halting the passage of air. Once the brain realizes this is occurring, it wakes the person to allow the airway to reopen. Most individuals do not fully wake up when this happens, and the person may snort when the airway opens. This can occur hundreds of times throughout the night.

Central sleep apnea, in contrast, takes place when the brain neglects to send the proper signals to the muscles involved in breathing. Individuals with this type of sleep apnea find they have trouble getting to sleep at night or remaining asleep. Besides, they often report they are short of breath, and this condition is severe, as it may bring about heart disease or a stroke. With complex sleep apnea, the person suffers from both central and obstructive sleep apnea. This type of condition is scarce.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, are often the first treatment recommendations for sleep apnea. For those who don’t benefit from these changes, a machine delivering air pressure via a mask is commonly prescribed, as it helps to keep the airways open. Some patients find they need a device that not only provides this air pressure but also automatically adjusts the pressure throughout the night. Oral appliances may be prescribed by a dentist to help keep the throat open by moving the jaw forward, and some patients find they need surgery to remove any excess tissue present in the throat or nose.

Different surgical options may be recommended by the dentist and medical teams, such as a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser and is called a laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (LAUPP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures usually performed under light IV sedation.

In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires one to two days overnight stay in the hospital.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your physician may recommend you see a dentist or oral surgeon as part of your treatment plan. The team works together to determine the right treatment plan which may include an oral appliance.

Contact us today at 202-363-2500 if you suspect you have may have apnea or have already been diagnosed, and our team will work with you to resolve the issue and allow you to get a good night’s sleep once again.

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Drs. Brown and Pollowitz and the entire staff at the Washington Center for Cosmetic Dentistry are beyond phenomenal. I regularly recommend them to everyone I know and plan on staying with this team for as long as I live in DC.
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