Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes an interruption in your breathing while you’re sleeping due to two possible problems. Either your brain isn’t signalling the muscles to breathe - called Central Sleep Apnea - or the soft palate and tongue in the throat relax and block the airway - known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In both instances, the person’s brain sends a signal that it is not receiving enough oxygen, causing the person to wake up. Although most people do not recall waking up during an episode, they still often feel less rested and groggy the next day.
Central Sleep Apnea is rare and requires a neurologist for treatment, but OSA is very common, as 1 in 7 people in the U.S. suffer from it. If you are known to snore and often don’t feel rested in the morning, these may be signs that you have Sleep Apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
People with OSA generally experience:
- Loud snoring
- Uneven breathing – periods of silence followed by gasps or snorts
- Frequent waking, often with a sharp gasp
- Dry mouth
- Mood problems such as depression and irritability
- Chronic exhaustion that interferes with everyday activities, even after a full-night’s sleep
- Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
If you are experiencing any of these systems, Dr. Kaffey may refer you to a sleep specialist first to determine whether those symptoms are due to OSA. Once determined, he can proceed with treatment.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Although anyone can develop OSA (even children), here are some general factors that can make you more likely to develop it:
- You’re overweight - about half of people with OSA are overweight
- You’re a male - However, the risk evens out between both genders above menopausal age
- You’re over the age of 60
- You smoke
- You have enlarged tonsils or adenoids - This is a big factor for children, especially when they’re overweight.
- You are naturally built with features such as a thick neck, narrowed airway, deviated spectrum or a receding chin.
- You regularly drink alcohol or use sedatives and tranquilizers, all of which relax your muscles, including those in the throat.
- You have asthma - This is a factor for both adults and children, particularly if they are overweight.
- You are African American, Hispanic or of another minority race - Studies have shown that you may have a slightly higher risk.
- You have allergies and/or chronic nasal congestion.
Other Health issues related to Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea a serious condition that not only can affect your sleep, but also can cause other health issues, such as brain damage or daily impairment that heightens your risk of injury or accidents. It can also make many existing conditions worse, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke, heart failure and more
- Cognitive Impairments such as dementia
- ADHD and other cognition / behavioral problems
- Certain types of cancer
- Depression and anxiety
Sleep Apnea can be treated
Dr. Kaffey has a non-invasive treatment that does not require you to use any kind of bulky or inconvenient equipment, such as a continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) device. This is the usual treatment for OSA, which involves wearing a breathing mask hooked up to a machine that helps regulate your breathing.
However, Dr. Kaffey can construct custom oral devices that will treat the problem just as well and that are much easier to use. There are many different oral appliances available and, based on your specific needs, Dr. Kaffey will determine which appliance is the right choice for you. All oral appliances for Sleep apnea work by gently pushing your lower jaw forward to tighten the soft tissue in your mouth, thus pulling your tongue forward and opening your airway.
Don’t wait to be treated
Treatment of your Sleep Apnea is crucial and can help you to avoid further long-term health issues. With the state-of-the-art technologies that Leading Dental Solutions can provide, treating this problem has never been easier. Contact our office to book a consultation with Dr. David M. Kaffey to be one step closer to a better night’s sleep.