When you think of the dentist, you likely think of toothbrushes and drills, not treatments for serious medical conditions. But our team of expert dentists at Chester Family Dentistry are specially trained to treat sleep apnea: one of America’s most harmful and most underdiagnosed health conditions.
Here, we take a closer look at sleep apnea and how we can help you treat it in our office.
The basics of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that impacts nearly 22 million Americans. Not only is it a pervasive problem, but nearly 80% of cases go undiagnosed. That’s because the primary indicator is typically loud snoring, which is easy to ignore and can even go undetected.
One of the most common types of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the muscles responsible for supporting your throat, tongue, and soft palate relax temporarily.
When those muscles relax, they restrict or completely close off your airways, stopping your breathing. For some, these apnea moments last a few seconds, for others, several minutes.
Your brain finally wakes you up enough to start breathing once your oxygen levels drop. This process can occur up to 30 times or more an hour with severe apnea.
Besides snoring, you may also notice these symptoms if you have sleep apnea:
- Morning headaches
- Nighttime urination
- Dry mouth and sore throat upon waking
- Lack of focus
- Trouble with memory
- Mood changes, such as irritability and depression
Many write sleep apnea off as a problem with sleep, but if left untreated, you run the risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, type 2 diabetes, and heart attacks.
Sleep apnea and your dentist
Because it’s a medical condition, you may think you need a doctor to treat your sleep apnea, but the answer may be sitting in your dentist’s chair.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, one of the best ways to treat it is to support your airway with a custom-fitted oral appliance. These adjustable plastic mouthpieces work to keep your airway open as you sleep by positioning your lower jaw forward and downward.
Bonus: our oral appliances are comfortable, quiet, portable, and easy to wear — unlike CPAP machines.
What you can do for sleep apnea
Seeking professional treatment is the first step in managing your sleep apnea, but there are other things you can do to maximize your treatment. For example, losing weight can relieve pressure on your airways as you sleep.
Other lifestyle adjustments that help sleep apnea include:
- Increase exercise to boost oxygen levels
- Quit smoking and drinking
- Change sleep position
- Avoiding certain medications
- Treat nasal congestion
It’s also important that you establish a healthy sleeping routine that helps you get a restful sleep. Try going to bed within 15-30 minutes of the same time every night, maintaining your sleep schedule on the weekends, and avoiding daytime naps.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, don’t wait to request an appointment at our Warren, Ohio, office today.