Do you snore when you sleep? Are there times during the night that you wake up with difficulty breathing?
You may have a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapse. These tissues block the airway and make breathing hard when asleep. Sleep apnea is often a dangerous medical problem that can increase the risk of heart problems, including heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes.
Our team treats patients with mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy in Bensalem, PA. Dr. Marc Segal is a member of our dental team who has experience in treating patients with sleep apnea. He uses comprehensive methods and works with patients to diagnose their symptoms properly and provide appropriate care.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are multiple signs of sleep apnea to be aware of, including:
- Breathing through the mouth
- Difficulty paying attention when awake
- Dry mouth
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Memory problems
- Weight gain
Patients who are male, over 40, overweight, or smoke are often more prone to developing sleep apnea. Please notify our office of your dental and medical history when you visit, and we can work with you to provide the right treatment for your specific needs. It can often be difficult for patients to realize they have sleep apnea, as it occurs unconsciously. However, if you or a loved one have noticed changes in your sleeping patterns or mood, let us know. We can help screen you for sleep apnea.
The Dangers of Uncontrolled Sleep Apnea
It’s wrong to assume that sleep apnea is just snoring and nothing to worry about. Untreated sleep apnea can be incredibly dangerous. When you have sleep apnea, you wake up multiple times throughout the night because you can’t breathe, whether you realize it or not.
You wake up tired even though you think you slept for a decent amount of time. You feel fatigued throughout the day and can be confused because you didn’t get enough sleep. Sleep is also crucial for memories, so you may also experience memory loss.
Sleep apnea and breathing problems often go hand in hand. Your breathing stops when you’re asleep, sometimes multiple times each night. Sleep apnea can worsen your symptoms if you already deal with adult asthma. You also have a higher risk of further complications with your asthma when you have sleep apnea. It can raise your blood pressure, leading to even further breathing complications. Because you aren’t getting enough oxygen in general, you also have low blood oxygen levels.
Heart and vascular problems are some of the most severe you experience with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea makes you more likely to have higher levels of bad cholesterol, putting you at risk for heart disease. Having sleep apnea increases your risk for other heart problems, like strokes, irregular heart rhythm, and heart failure. High blood sugar and diabetes are correlated with sleep apnea as well.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea
An oral appliance is one of the best treatments for mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea. Similar to mouthguards, oral appliances are custom-made using digital scans. We will scan the mouth for the exact dimensions of the teeth. These scans are sent to a dental lab, where the custom appliance is fabricated. Once the oral appliance is complete, we will ensure that it fits you precisely and feels natural to wear.
When compared to a CPAP machine, oral appliances are less bulky, easier to transport, and more comfortable to use. CPAP machines are a great option for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. However, for mild cases, oral appliances are a good alternative. Oral appliances are worn at night like a mouthguard. The appliance keeps the airway clear so that patients can breathe easily at night without disruption. Wearing a custom-made oral appliance prevents symptoms of OSA that can quickly develop into more serious medical problems.
Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions
Can sleep apnea run in the family?
There does seem to be a genetic component to sleep apnea in some cases. Having a family member with sleep apnea does increase your risk. The condition results from factors like having a narrow airway or enlarged tissues and structures in the throat. This can cause some individual’s airways to collapse during sleep. While lifestyle factors like being overweight also contribute, studies show sleep apnea can cluster in families due to inherited facial structures and genetic predisposition.
Will an adjustable bed help with sleep apnea?
An adjustable bed can help some people with sleep apnea. It will allow you to elevate your head and improve breathing by opening your airways. Moreover, an elevated bed can also improve sleep quality by reducing snoring and improving breathing. The bed can also decrease acid reflux, which can make sleep apnea symptoms worse. Lastly, while an adjustable bed is very beneficial, it’s not a cure for sleep apnea. It is also not a replacement for treatments such as CPAP therapy.
Does sleep apnea get worse with age?
Yes, sleep apnea can worsen with age. As people age, the muscle tone that keeps the airway open decreases. This can lead to an increase in airway collapse during sleep. Furthermore, weight gain, which also becomes more common with aging, increases the risk of apnea. Additionally, as we age, structural changes, like enlargement of tissues in the throat, can also increase obstruction. Lastly, while age is a risk, factors like health conditions and lifestyle changes also play a role.
Does a humidifier help with sleep apnea?
Yes, a humidifier can help with sleep apnea. It can be really helpful to an individual is using CPAP therapy. CPAP adds moisture to the air and can alleviate dryness and irritation in the nasal passages and throat. A humidified airflow can also reduce congestion and potentially improve airflow. This could reduce your apnea. Above all, it’s always best to consult a sleep specialist to determine if a humidifier is right for you.
Can overbite cause sleep apnea?
Yes. An overbite can be a contributing factor to sleep apnea. When the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth, it can cause the lower jaw to recede. As a result, this can potentially lead to a restricted airway. This restriction increases the likelihood of airway obstructions during sleep. That’s also a characteristic of sleep apnea. If you have an overbite and display sleep apnea symptoms, you should see a dentist or medical professional.
What is the best position to sleep in with sleep apnea?
The best position to sleep in with sleep apnea is on your side. Doing so will help keep the airway open and reduce symptoms like snoring. Moreover, sleeping on our right side will also encourage blood flow. On the other hand, sleeping on your back is probably the worst position for individuals with sleep apnea. Sleeping this way can cause the tongue and soft tissues in your throat to collapse and block the airway.
However, if you insist on sleeping on your back, elevate your head to at least a 60-degree angle. This will limit how much gravity pulls the tongue and other tissues into a position where they can block the airway. ep position or using a pillow to alleviate any strain on your neck and keep your airway open.
Call Our Dental Office Today
If you have noticed sleep apnea symptoms in yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Perfect Smiles for an appointment at 215-770-1081. We also provide general dentistry services at our Bensalem, PA office. You may request a dental consultation with our dental team on our website. Please let our dental team know if you have any further questions about sleep apnea or have current symptoms. They will be happy to help you get the care you need.