If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, a qualified dentist may be able to test you for the condition and offer an effective treatment.
Q: What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans. This condition is marked by pauses in breathing during sleep. The interruption is usually caused by soft-tissue collapse causing a blockage in the airway or by a failure in communication from the brain inhibiting a natural breathing response.
Q: Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Yes, sleep apnea is a serious condition because it disrupts breathing patterns, which can result in inadequate oxygen being supplied to the brain and body. In addition, these interruptions also disturb your sleep so you may not be getting proper rest. There are indications that there are ties between sleep apnea and other serious health problems such as strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
Q: What are the signs that I have sleep apnea?
It is difficult to self-diagnose sleep apnea since you are asleep during episodes and usually aren’t aware that anything is happening. Sleep apnea is usually only observed if another person is in the room during an episode. However, some signs that you may have sleep apnea include:
- Frequent fatigue or drowsiness during the day
- Dry or sore throat upon waking
- Waking with a headache
- Mood changes
- Insomnia or frequently waking up
- Snoring or waking up gasping
Q: How is sleep apnea treated?
A common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP, which uses a breathing apparatus to ensure a constant airflow is maintained to keep airways open during sleep. Some patients find this method cumbersome though, and in many cases, a qualified dentist can fit patients with a dental device that can keep the airway open instead. Occasionally, surgery may be called for to fix the problem.
Don’t hesitate to talk to a dentist. if there is a possibility you have sleep apnea. Many dentists are trained to offer testing and treatment for this sleep disorder.