It’s estimated that up to 9% of women and 24% of men aged 30 and older suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, but it can begin at any age, including during childhood. Dr. Leslie McDougall at Morrow County Dental encourages you to talk with her about sleep apnea, because a custom-fitted dental appliance can effectively treat the problem. Oral dental appliances are often covered by medical insurance and are a wonderful alternative for CPAP users. You can schedule a consultation by calling her office in Mount Gilead, Ohio.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing while you sleep. Apnea episodes, or pauses in breathing, occur when muscles and other soft tissues relax and move back toward your throat, where they can cover your airway.
Each apnea episode can last up to a minute or longer. Oxygen levels in your blood drop enough that your brain awakens you with a gasp to restore oxygen to the body In severe cases, breathing can stop 30 times or more an hour.
The primary symptoms of sleep apnea are:
Loud snoring is the most common symptom, although you’re not usually aware that you snore. Your first clue that you may have sleep apnea is likely to come from a partner or family member who complains about your snoring.
Apnea interrupts your sleep, so you don’t get a good night’s rest. You may only feel tired during quiet activities like watching television, but if your apnea is severe, you may be fatigued even when you’re active.
You may also experience symptoms such as:
Every time you stop breathing -- even for a short time -- it causes stress in your body. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of:
If you have a mild case of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes like losing weight and sleeping on your side may help. Doctors often prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
CPAP consists of wearing a mask that’s attached to a machine that blows air into your throat. While the air pressure prevents apnea, many people have a hard time tolerating the mask.
The dentists at Morrow County Dental have another option that’s effective for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea -- a custom-fitted oral appliance. It’s similar to a sports mouth guard that you wear during the night.
The oral appliance keeps your airway open by gently moving your lower jaw into a forward position. Since your tongue is connected to your jaw, it doesn’t fall back to block the airway. Your dentist customizes your oral appliance, so it fits comfortably and is easy to insert before going to sleep.