Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder which is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. There are basically three types of apnea:
- Central Apnea: The upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system. This occurs because the patient is not getting a chemical response from the brain to stimulate the lungs and the diaphragm to assist with breathing.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.
- Mixed Apnea: This is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.
Oral appliances are only indicated for use in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The signs and symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping or choking during the night, non-refreshed sleep, fragmented sleep, clouded memory, irritability, personality changes, decreased sex drive, impotence, and morning headaches.
Factors that affect obstructive sleep apnea are as follows:
- Sedative Hypnotics (sleeping pills)
Children can also snore and suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Often they are highly allergic and their airway is blocked due to enlarged adenoids, tonsils or swollen nasal mucosa. Clinical signs would indicate a turned up nose, allergic shiners under the eyes, mucous draining out of the nose, mouth breathing, and a nasal sound to the voice. Other signs are bed wetting, irritability, difficulty in concentrating at school and hyperactivity.
How Dentistry Can Help
By now you’re probably wondering: What does my dentist have to do with all this? Here’s the connection: Snoring or sleep apnea can sometimes be treated with an oral appliance available at our Elgin, IL dental office. It’s designed to hold the lower jaw forward during sleep, helping to reposition the jaw. This repositioning moves the tongue away from the back of the throat, reducing the potential for obstruction. This treatment is backed by a great deal of scientific evidence; it’s a good remedy to try before moving on to more complicated breathing devices or surgery to remove excess tissues in the throat.
Only a dentist can fabricate, fit, adjust, monitor, and treat complications associated with Oral Appliance Therapy used in managing SRBD. So if you or a loved one is experiencing any combination of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, contact Karr and Blazer Dental in Elgin, IL for a consultation today!