Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Breathing During Sleep

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, 3:14 pm

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that causes people to stop breathing during sleep. These stoppages of breath cause brief awakenings when the brain becomes starved for oxygen. The sleeper typically gasps awake and then return to sleep immediately and will not remember the episode. This may happen a few times each night or it can happen hundreds of times. Obviously, this leaves the patient exhausted because their sleep has been disturbed all night – but worst of all the oxygen deprivation causes damage to other parts of the body. Sleep apnea has been linked to stroke, heart attack, weight gain, depression and increased risk of accident.

Sleep apnea can’t be ignored – it must be treated. The most common treatment suggested is a CPAP machine. Research has shown that about half of patients who are supposed to use a CPAP cannot tolerate the machine. Sleep doctors consider a patient to be “compliant” with their CPAP if they use it only 4 hours per night! That means there are many hours of sleep when breathing is interrupted.

Specially trained dentists have another option for those patients who are CPAP intolerant or want a simpler treatment- an oral appliance!

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the mouth and throat collapse back into the airway during sleep and block the windpipe. When the airway is partially blocked there is loud snoring but when the airway is fully block breathing stops. The brain senses that it is low on oxygen and briefly wakens the sleeper to being breathing again. The sleeper doesn’t remember waking but the entire night of sleep is fragmented and the body doesn’t get the rest it so desperately needs.

CPAP uses pressurized air fed through a mask to keep this airway open. There are now many types of masks available and with trial and error patients may find one that is comfortable. Other patients complain about complicated care of the equipment, rashes and eye infections, sore throats and headaches.

An oral appliance is a small device that looks like a mouthguard. The most common type of oral appliance gently places the  lower jaw in a forward position, this also brings the tongue forward and keeps the tissues out of the airway throughout the night. Snoring is stopped and the airway remains open.

If you would like to find out more information about oral appliance therapy or discover whether or not you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy to treat your obstructive sleep apnea please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 today. You deserve a good night’s sleep!

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Category: sleep apnea

One Response to “Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Breathing During Sleep”

  1. Andrea Velasquez April 10th, 2013, 11:11 pm

    I understand that sleep apnea is a condition that should not be neglected. It can affect the different major organs in our body for the reason that it can deplete the supply of oxygen to those various parts. Moreover, it's great that CPAP is now available. However, as i am looking into it, isn't it uncomfortable to use? Sleping with a mask on? I think it's really uncomfortable but, so far i think there's no other way to help this condition.

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