Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder wherein the patient experiences partial or total blockage of the airway during sleep. The blockage is caused due to the collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the throat and can be quite severe. The condition is quite common, and it is estimated that around 16% of Americans suffer from it. The effects of sleep apnea can pose a significant threat to one's health and overall well-being.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SLEEP APNEA?
One of the major symptoms of sleep apnea is excessive snoring. The patient would experience frequent pauses in their breathing during sleep. This is quite obvious, as the blockage could cause the lungs to inhale and exhale much lesser air than they usually do. The patient would wake up several times during sleep to inhale oxygen. This would be followed by a short period of sleep before they wake up again. The throat could feel choked as the tissues in its walls would press against the airway. The person could experience a persistent headache, as lesser oxygen would reach the brain during sleep.
This condition severely disrupts one's sleep and causes drowsiness during the day. The patient wouldn't feel refreshed and feel sleepy even after a long rest. The patient may experience a decline in their mental sharpness due to a lack of restful sleep. Sleep apnea can make you put on weight, as you wouldn't be able to sleep properly due to frequent wakings.
HOW CAN THIS CONDITION BE TREATED?
Sleep apnea can be treated using simple means like weight reduction and avoiding smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol before going to bed. However, if your condition doesn't improve despite these means, we can use an oral appliance called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device to treat it.
WHAT IS AN ORAL-BASED POSITIVE AIRWAY PRESSURE DEVICE?
An oral-based positive airway pressure device is a mouthpiece that is fabricated using high-quality dental-grade plastic or metal. The dentist would take a few X-rays of your mouth and use them along with digital scans to fabricate a custom-made device that will fit comfortably on your teeth and fit snugly against the roof of your mouth. It helps to keep the airway open by preventing the collapse of the tissues in your throat, thereby allowing you to breathe freely without any interruptions or pauses in your breathing pattern during sleep.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
You will have to place the device in your mouth before going to bed and bite it firmly between your teeth. When you do so, it creates a seal around your mouth and prevents the tissues in your throat from collapsing into your airway while you sleep. This keeps it open at all times and allows you to inhale sufficient oxygen into your body, thereby improving your breathing pattern significantly. The device has a built-in control mechanism that prevents its ball from getting dislodged from its position while you are asleep. We recommend that you use it every night for optimum results.
To learn more, visit us at Helena, MT, or call us at (406) 443-6160 to schedule an appointment with the dentist and we will be happy to help.