If you wake up often during the night, you may have sleep apnea. This condition is caused by several different issues. One of these causes leads to what is known as obstructive sleep apnea. When this occurs, your airway is covered, and you cannot breathe. Your body may jerk awake just enough to correct the issue without you becoming fully aware of it. However, your sleep cycle is still interrupted, leaving you feeling exhausted. If you are dealing with obstructive sleep apnea, Everglades Family Dental can help.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
When you fall asleep, your muscles all relax, including those in your mouth and throat. In most people, these muscles do not relax so much that they cover the airway. However, some people do relax that much, and this results in the airway being blocked. Your lungs will start working harder to get more and more oxygen into your body as the muscles block off more and more of the airway. When it reaches a critical point, your brain wakes up enough to tighten the muscles. Unfortunately, as soon as you fall back asleep, the muscles relax again. This creates a cycle of constantly waking up during the night. In the worst cases, those who have obstructive sleep apnea wake up hundreds of times in a single night.
Obstructive sleep apnea differs from central sleep apnea in that it is caused by a blockage of the airway. If you have central sleep apnea, your body actually stops breathing on its own. This version of sleep apnea is treated differently, and you will need to speak to your doctor about treatment.
How Do We Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
We treat obstructive sleep apnea by using an oral appliance to prevent the muscles from dropping over the airway. This appliance is similar to a mouthguard that you might wear if you grind your teeth at night.
There are a few different types of appliances for sleep apnea. The type that is right for you depends on which muscles are blocking the airway. One type of appliance shifts the lower jaw, pushing it slightly forward. This helps keep the throat muscles out of the airway. Another type holds the tongue and prevents it from falling over your throat. A third type actually does both of these things.
Who Needs Treatment for Sleep Apnea?
Often, people who suffer from sleep apnea do not realize it at first. You may snore loudly, but you may assume it is due to congestion or allergies. You may also wake up feeling exhausted and unrested often, but again, you may assume it is because of something else. Even if you wake up a few times in the night, you may not connect the dots right away.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, there are a few signs to look for. Do you wake up gasping for air or coughing? Does your mouth feel dry? Does your throat hurt? These symptoms are common with obstructive sleep apnea. If you have them, call Everglades Family Dental at (754) 764-0465 so we can schedule you for an exam and determine if you need a sleep apnea appliance.