Sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea, is a medical condition that occurs when you stop breathing intermittently during the night for seconds to a minute or longer. It interrupts your sleep and can lead to hypertension, mood and memory problems, and heart disease. It can also make you drowsy during the day – interfering with work, your quality of life, and safety when driving.
When you sleep, the muscles relax too much and soft tissue blocks your airway. You stop breathing for a moment, which wakes you up and disturbs your sleep.
Sleep apnea has a genetic component; people with a small upper airway and large tongue or tonsils are vulnerable. Other risk factors include:
Sleep apnea is usually associated with chronic snoring, especially snoring that sounds like gasping and choking. Men tend to present with sleep apnea more often than women. Other symptoms of sleep apnea present when you’re not sleeping. These include:
If not treated, sleep apnea can lead to chronic sleep deprivation. You might also develop:
Your doctor and dentist can work together to determine if an oral appliance therapy will help resolve your sleep apnea. The custom fit appliance is made from an impression of your mouth so it fits just right. It’s non-invasive and easy to use. Other advantages of this treatment for sleep apnea include:
Your medical doctor usually writes a prescription for an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea. You then make an appointment with Summit Dental Group for a clinical evaluation that includes an examination of your jaw, tongue, airway, and teeth.
During this evaluation, your dentist makes an impression of your mouth and teeth. This impression is sent to a dental lab, which makes the appliance.
At your second visit, the dentist fits the appliance to you – making any adjustments for comfort and effectiveness. You’ll also learn how to store and clean it.