Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can lead to several serious health problems if it isn't treated promptly. Dr. Angela Bauer, your Madison, WI dentist, answers a few questions about sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when your brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen when you sleep. When you fall asleep, your tongue and throat muscles relax, which causes your airway to become narrower than usual. If you have sleep apnea, your airway may occasionally close completely for a few seconds.
Why is sleep apnea dangerous?
Oxygen deprivation, even if it's only for a few seconds at a time, can have a serious impact on your health if it occurs night after night. Sleep apnea can lead to:
- Heart failure
- Irregular heart beat
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Worsening of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air
- Short pauses in breathing
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty remembering things or concentrating on tasks
How is sleep apnea treated?
The sleep disorder is frequently treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. Sleep apnea patients wear special masks that constantly release a stream of air into their throats, preventing airway collapse.
Although CPAP treatment is very effective, some people can't get used to wearing the masks. Madison dentists offer oral appliance therapy, another treatment option that can be easier to tolerate. If you choose oral appliance therapy, you'll be fitted with a special device that you'll wear when you sleep.
The device looks like a mouth guard and keeps your airway open by holding your tongue in the proper position or by moving your lower jaw forward. Since your oral appliance is so small, you can easily take it with you when you travel, and you may find it more comfortable than a CPAP mask.
Are you concerned that you have sleep apnea, but don't think you could handle wearing a CPAP mask? Call Madison, WI dentist, Dr. Angela Bauer, at (608) 423-3615 and find out how a custom-made oral appliance can help you overcome sleep apnea.