Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which can damage a patient’s organs if not treated properly. It can be alarming because a patient’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the sleep cycle. Patients typically snore loudly and never feel rested even after a full night of sleep when they have sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea, our professionals here at O'Sullivan, DeLuca & Ressel Dental Care are more than happy to discuss your options with you.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea when the throat muscles relax. These muscles provide the supportive structure for the tonsils, the walls of the throat, and the tongue. As the muscles relax, the airway is narrowed when taking a breath. Sometimes this is associated with gasping, choking or snorting sounds. As the oxygen level lowers, the patient’s brain rouses them to reopen the airway, impairing restful sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea has a variety of symptoms. Typically, they involve loud snoring, gasping during sleep, waking with a dry mouth, experiencing a morning headache, difficulty remaining asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty focusing while awake and irritability. Oftentimes partners report a complete stoppage of breathing. Factors which can increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea include obesity, being male, advanced in age, smoking, using alcohol or sedatives and being congested.
Central sleep apnea is less common and occurs when the brain does not correctly send signals to the muscles which control breathing. It means the body makes no effort to breathe for a short period, typically resulting in waking with a shortness of breath. It can also mean the patient has a hard time staying asleep. Risk factors for central sleep apnea include being middle-aged or older, being male, having heart disorders, using sedatives, or having had a stroke.
The third type of sleep apnea occurs when a patient displays symptoms from both types. This is called complex sleep apnea syndrome and is slightly more complicated to treat.
Sleep Apnea Health Complications
If sleep apnea is left untreated, there can be associated health complications. Daytime fatigue, high blood pressure or other heart related problems, type 2 diabetes diagnosis, difficult time recovering from surgery or medical procedures, and liver problems. All of which decrease the overall level of health and wellbeing.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
In milder cases, we suggest simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight or to stop smoking. If there are allergy problems, we will also recommend medicinal remedies.
With more serious cases, other treatment options are necessary. These include a continuous positive airway pressure machine or a CPAP machine. This is the most common treatment option. It keeps the airway open through a machine. Oral appliances can be worn to also open the airway during sleep. Supplemental oxygen has also been known to alleviate symptoms too.
When these noninvasive options are exhausted, we recommend surgical procedures to either remove excess tissue at the rear of the mouth or to remove tonsils and adenoids. Jaw surgery to reposition the mandible is an option which enlarges the space behind the tongue and soft palate minimizing the chance for airway obstructions.
Our office staff at O'Sullivan, DeLuca & Ressel Dental Care can discuss the available options for sleep apnea. Please call (352) 666-9898 with questions or to schedule an office visit.