Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects up to a billion people worldwide. Although it is more common in men or the elderly, its causes are varied and anyone can be diagnosed with the condition. If your nights are accompanied by complaints of loud snoring and mornings with a lack of energy or irritability, you may have sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is stopped while asleep. These interruptions can occur suddenly throughout the night. There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, (OSA) the most common form of apnea. It is caused by soft tissue restricting airflow in the throat while the body relaxes during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea, (CSA) in which respiration becomes erratic by imbalances in the brain’s respiratory control system.
- Mixed sleep apnea, (MSA) a combination of OSA and CSA. Also known as Complex Sleep Apnea, it is a fairly rare condition usually detected by initial treatment of OSA.
Am I At Risk of Getting Sleep Apnea?
There are a large variety of factors that can cause sleep apnea to occur. People are more likely to have sleep apnea if they have:
- A family history of sleep apnea
- Constricted facial features like a narrow jaw, chin, or enlarged tongue
- Seasonal or chronic allergies
- Upset stomach, indigestion issues or acid reflux
- Diabetes or a family history of the condition
- Habits like smoking or vaping
- Lung diseases like bronchitis or asthma
- A history of alcohol consumption on a regular basis
- Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s
- Consistent use of muscle relaxants or sedatives
How Can I Tell If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Regardless of which type of sleep apnea you may have, all have some noticeable and clear warning signs you can recognize:
- Loud snoring, snorting, or choking during sleep. This is the most common symptom of sleep apnea.
- Pains and headaches
- Dry mouth and irritated lips
- Insomnia, or difficulty staying asleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, (EDS) also known as hypersomnia
- Changes in mood or irritability during the day
- Shifts in alertness and focus
What Are the Long Term Effects of Sleep Apnea?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause the following complications:
- Impairment of motor function and decision making
- Permanent changes in mood or depression
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Heart problems caused by high blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Liver damage
- Higher risk of accidents while operating machinery
What Can I Do If I Think I Have Sleep Apnea?
If you believe you are suffering from sleep apnea, it may be a good idea to have a partner observe your sleeping habits and check for the most common symptoms of the condition. You can also record your sleeping habits on your own overnight. If sleep apnea is affecting your quality of life, the best course of action is to have a specialist examine the condition.
Are You Suffering From Sleep Apnea?
If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, Savannah Dental Solutions can help. Our dedicated team provides a variety of services, and we strive to be the best choice for all of your dental health needs. Call us at (912) 354-1366 to schedule a sleep apnea consultation, or contact us online.
Have you recently had your teeth professionally whitened? Many people choose to get whitening treatment from their dentist because it tends to be more effective. Now that your teeth are shades whiter and you’re happy with your smile, how can you keep it that way?
This is a common question many patients have. When you invest in teeth whitening treatment, you want lasting results so you don’t have to do it again for a long time. In order to achieve lasting results, here are some tips for caring for your smile after teeth whitening.
Use a Touch-Up System
Many teeth whitening systems come with touch-up treatments you can do at home to keep your teeth looking white. These are often less concentrated versions of the whitening agent your dentist uses on your teeth during the initial treatment. Take-home whitening systems often include plastic trays that are custom made to fit your teeth so that the bleaching gel can be applied evenly. Follow your dentist’s instructions for home treatments and you’ll keep your teeth looking white.
Avoid or Cut Back on Food and Drinks that Stain Your Teeth
What you eat plays a big part in discoloring your teeth. Coffee, tea, red wine, grape juice, dark soft drinks, and foods with artificial dyes are some of the most common stain-causing foods and drinks. Avoid these if you want to keep your teeth as white as possible. But if you simply must have your morning coffee or tea and a glass or two of red wine now and then, it won’t necessarily ruin your results. But you could consider brushing your teeth after eating or drinking one of these stain-causing items to keep the residue from just sitting on your teeth and soaking in.
Follow Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day as well as flossing will keep your teeth healthy. Brushing helps to remove food particles and plaque that could stain your teeth. Flossing removes food and plaque from between your teeth, which helps keep them healthy. Healthy teeth don’t pick up stains as much because the enamel is stronger and more stain-resistant. Avoid smoking and other tobacco products that tend to stain teeth.
Get a Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
You may have a slight bit of tooth sensitivity after a whitening treatment, which is normal. Professional whitening treatments tend to be much easier on your teeth than the ones you buy in the store. But either way, consider using a sensitive teeth toothpaste for a few days to a few weeks after whitening. This helps to make the teeth feel less sensitive to heat or cold. If your gums feel sore or inflamed after whitening, try rinsing with salt water.
Teeth Whitening at Savannah Dental Solutions
Now that you’ve learned some tips for caring for your smile after teeth whitening, you might be ready to give it a try. If you want teeth whitening treatment that will give you dramatic results that last, Savannah Dental Solutions uses the KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching System. We have seen excellent, natural looking results in our patients who report a high level of satisfaction with the treatment and are pleasantly surprised with how long their results have lasted. You don’t have to give up coffee, tea, or other foods and drinks you love.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us to schedule a teeth whitening consultation. We look forward to helping you brighten your smile.
Does your smile need a makeover? If you want to improve the appearance of your teeth, porcelain veneers can do that. Dental veneers are thin, shell-like covers that attach to the front side of your teeth to cover stains, chips, gaps, uneven lengths, and other cosmetic issues.
If you’re considering this option, it can help to weigh the pros and cons of veneers to decide whether or not this is the solution for you.
Pros of Porcelain Veneers
There are many benefits to porcelain veneers. When considering whether or not this is the cosmetic solution for your smile, here’s what’s good:
- Durable. Porcelain is a strong type of ceramic that holds up well and offers a bite strength that rivals your natural teeth.
- Stain resistant. Porcelain is stain resistant, so if you’re using it to cover existing stains on your teeth, you can rest assured that your veneers will not end up picking up new stains.
- Natural look. From a cosmetic dentistry standpoint, porcelain closely resembles real tooth enamel. You’ll feel confident about your smile, knowing that it looks natural.
- Affordable. When compared to other dental options, porcelain veneers cost less than crowns, bridges, and dental implants.
- Low Maintenance. To take care of your veneers, you simply need to brush and floss your teeth as you would your natural teeth. Good oral hygiene is still important to help your veneers and the natural teeth behind them last longer.
- Fast. Porcelain veneers are one of the quickest ways to improve your smile. Other restorations are more invasive and require more appointments to complete.
- Porcelain is Compatible with Gum Tissue. One of the biggest benefits of porcelain is that it won’t irritate your gums. This is one of many reasons why porcelain veneers are preferable to composite veneers.
Cons of Porcelain Veneers
You should also take the cons into consideration when you make your decision about getting porcelain veneers. Here are the drawbacks:
- Won’t correct severe dental problems. If you have severe decay or other serious dental issues, veneers will not necessarily correct this. Fillings may need to be done first, or a root canal, or other restorative procedures. If the tooth can’t be restored, covering it up with a veneer won’t solve the problem. The tooth will eventually cause you pain and need to be treated.
- Irreversible. Once you get veneers placed on your teeth, you can’t have them removed. A thin layer of enamel is shaved off of the front side of your teeth to attach the veneers. The only solution is to replace the veneers or to replace the tooth completely.
- May cause tooth sensitivity. Because the top layer of tooth enamel is shaved off, it can cause sensitivity in those teeth. Veneers are not thick enough to prevent cold or heat from penetrating and causing discomfort.
- Won’t last as long as other dental restorations. Veneers last an average of 10 years. While they can last longer, they can’t compete with other dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, or implants.
Cosmetic Dentistry at Savannah Dental Solutions
If you want to improve your smile, porcelain veneers are one of the best and easiest ways to do so. Now that you know the pros and cons, you can decide for yourself whether or not veneers are the right option for you. Savannah Dental Solutions provides porcelain veneers as well as other cosmetic dentistry options if you were to decide to go a different route. We will be glad to evaluate your teeth and determine if you are an ideal candidate for dental veneers or make a recommendation for other treatments.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you improve your smile.
Do you have pain or limited mobility in your jaw? These are common symptoms of TMJ disorder. TMJ stands for the Temporomandibular Joint, which is the place where your lower jaw attaches to your skull. This joint can become inflamed, which causes pain and a tightness that can prevent you from being able to open your mouth as far as you should.
If you have TMJ issues, make an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can perform an evaluation and determine the best way to treat your TMJ. What will a TMJ evaluation look like? Here’s what to expect.Continue reading
For many people, the idea of going to the dentist brings about feelings of anxiety. It is estimated that 36% of the population suffers from dental anxiety. For some it is even more serious, escalating to the level of dentophobia, and it is often related to iatrophobia (fear of doctors) and trypanophobia (fear of needles/injections).
Dental anxiety prevents some people from going to the dentist to get the necessary care that is so important for oral health. People with dental anxiety will avoid going to the dentist for any reason, from regular cleanings and exams to cavity fillings to root canals. They will even avoid getting treatment for serious dental conditions and live with the pain (and often over-medicate).
What causes dental anxiety? Typically it starts with just one negative experience at a dental office. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything went wrong, it may have been just a first time cavity filling that incited the fear. It often begins in childhood and continues into adulthood.
What can be done about it? How can people with severe dental anxiety get the care they need?
For patients with severe dental anxiety, it can help to be sedated. Sedation dentistry refers to any form of medicated relaxation used during a dental procedure. Some sedation medications can be taken orally. Others must be administered intravenously. Sometimes a combination of sedation methods can be used. If a patient is severely afraid of needles, they may have trouble even having an IV put in for sedation. But an oral sedative taken first, or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) administered before the IV can help the patient relax.
Levels of Sedation
There are different levels of sedation that can be used. Which is best depends on the patient’s preference, the type of procedure being done, and the dentist’s recommendation.
- Minimal sedation. With minimal sedation you are awake, but medically relaxed so that you won’t feel any stressl.
- Moderate sedation. You’re still awake when moderately sedated, but you are more relaxed and typically won’t remember much about your procedure.
- Deep sedation. When deeply sedated you are partially “asleep” but can be brought back to awareness quickly when necessary. You will not be aware of your procedure at all.
- General anesthesia. Under general anesthesia you are completely unconscious. You won’t be aware of the procedure and you will be brought back to consciousness afterwards.
What to Expect Following Sedation
For some patients, even the idea of being sedated causes anxiety because of the loss of control. But knowing what to expect can help.
You will need a friend or family member to drive you home from a dental procedure that involves sedation of any kind. You may still feel the effects of the anesthesia for an hour or two after going home, but once it wears off you’ll be back to normal. You may feel tired for the rest of the day following your procedure and need to rest. But by the next day you’ll be able to resume your normal activities.
Savannah Dental Solutions Provides Sedation Dentistry
If you or someone you love avoids dental care due to extreme anxiety, sedation dentistry can help. Savannah Dental Solutions provides a wide range of sedation options to help anxious patients relax. We will discuss the various sedation options with you to decide on the best course of treatment to make you or your loved one comfortable. Sedation dentistry can put an end to dental anxiety for patients who have suffered from it for years. You can get the dental care you need without the stress and fear.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you overcome your anxiety to get the dental care you need.
Are you thinking about getting porcelain veneers? Veneers are a great way to give your smile a makeover. Veneers are usually considered to be a cosmetic procedure, but can also be restorative as they strengthen and protect your teeth.
When deciding whether or not veneers are a good choice for you, it can help to weigh the pros and cons of the procedure. As with any type of dental procedure there are advantages and disadvantages of veneers when compared to other options.
What Are Veneers and How Do They Work?
To understand veneers teeth pros and cons, it helps to know what they are and how they work. Getting veneers is like putting a new outer facade on your teeth. Veneers are typically made of porcelain because it closely resembles natural tooth material in look and strength. Veneers attach to the front side of your teeth to give them a new appearance. They don’t replace your teeth like dental implants, and they are different from crowns that completely cover your teeth on all sides. Veneers simply attach to the front of each tooth to make your teeth whiter, straighter, and more uniform.
Veneers Teeth Pros and Cons
There are many pros, but also some cons of veneers.
- Natural look. Porcelain very closely resembles natural tooth enamel. Veneers can be made to match the size, shape, and color of your natural teeth.
- Porcelain resists stains. Another benefit of porcelain veneers is that they are better at resisting stains than composite veneers or even your natural teeth. Porcelain is not as porous as enamel so it won’t allow food and drink to get in and cause discoloration.
- Non-invasive procedure. Veneers don’t require surgery or even anesthesia in most cases. Only a very thin layer of tooth enamel is removed before the veneers are attached.
- Less expensive than replacing your teeth. Completely replacing your teeth with dental implants, crowns, or bridges is much more expensive than getting veneers. If the root of your tooth is still intact and healthy, veneers can give you a new smile for much less.
- Porcelain is compatible with gum tissue. Yet another reason porcelain is the best material for veneers is that it is biocompatible with your gums and won’t cause irritation.
- Cannot correct severe decay. If your teeth are severely decayed, you may need a root canal, cavity fillings, or even replacement teeth. Veneers cannot save your teeth, only improve the appearance of your teeth.
- Irreversible. In order for veneers to be placed it is necessary to remove a thin layer of tooth enamel, meaning you can’t undo the procedure. Tooth enamel does not regenerate once it is lost. If anything goes wrong with your veneers, they will need to be replaced with new veneers or another tooth replacement option.
- Can cause tooth sensitivity. When the top layer of enamel is removed it can make your teeth sensitive to heat and cold and veneers are too thin to protect against it.
- Prone to chipping and cracking. Porcelain veneers can potentially chip or crack and need to be replaced.
Making Your Decision
Now that you know most of the veneers teeth pros and cons, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not they are right for you. It is best to discuss your options with your dentist first, as they are familiar with the procedure and your particular dental needs. You should only get veneers if they are good for your dental health as well as the appearance of your teeth. A good looking smile can still have dental problems underneath that can cause you pain and need to be addressed.
Savannah Dental Solutions Can Transform Your Smile
If you’re looking for a cosmetic dentist who can give your smile a makeover, Savannah Dental Solutions can help. We offer a range of cosmetic dentistry services from veneers to teeth whitening and more. If you want a whiter, straighter, or just an all-around better looking smile, Savannah Dental Solutions can recommend the best option or combination of options for you.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to giving you the beautiful smile you deserve.
Do you or your spouse snore at night? Snoring is a very common occurrence for many people, and until recently it was considered normal. While it may be common, it is not necessarily normal. Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that 22 million Americans suffer from.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized by airway blockage while sleeping. When sleeping, the tongue and throat tissues relax and collapse to partially block your airway. Sleep apnea patients stop breathing for seconds at a time throughout the night, and when your brain detects the lack of oxygen, you are drawn out of your deep sleep to move or change positions so that you can breathe again. This prevents you from achieving a restful sleep at night. It can also lead to more serious conditions such as stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
There are two categories of sleep apnea treatment with multiple types, brands, and models within these categories:
- CPAP. A common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, because it provides the appropriate amount of air pressure in your throat to keep it from collapsing and blocking your airway while you sleep. A CPAP machine usually consists of a mask worn over the mouth and nose with a hose that is connected to the machine. If the machine senses that your breathing is abnormal, it will increase air pressure to correct it.
- Oral Appliance. Also known as a sleep apnea mouth guard or a snoring mouthpiece, an oral appliance can correct sleep apnea by providing COAT (Continuous Open Airway Therapy). The appliance fits over the teeth on the top and bottom jaw and serves to reposition the jaw so that it stays forward and prevents the tongue from sliding back and the throat from collapsing to block the airway.
Both options are effective for treating sleep apnea and helping patients stop snoring and get better quality sleep. Which option you choose depends on your personal preference.
Choosing a Treatment Option
Many patients prefer an oral appliance over a CPAP machine because the appliance is small and silent. A CPAP machine is noisy, cumbersome, and involves a bulky mask. A mouth guard is compact and easy to travel with.
What is the most effective oral appliance for sleep apnea? SomnoDent™ is one of the top brands, effectively eliminating snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea. Patients report experiencing better sleep from the very first night wearing the appliance.
Panthera™ also provides other benefits, such as preventing bruxism (teeth grinding). Grinding your teeth at night can cause wearing down of the teeth, sensitive teeth, jaw pain, and headaches. It is also a sign of sleep apnea in addition to snoring. If you wake up with a headache or jaw pain in the morning you are probably grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.
There are other brands and products out there that serve a similar purpose, but SomnoDent™ is comfortable, requires minimal adjustments, and is made of high quality materials that hold up over time and reduce odors.
Savannah Dental Solutions Recommends and Offers Panthera™
What is the most effective oral appliance for sleep apnea and where can you get it? Savannah Dental Solutions provides SomnoDent™ oral appliances to our patients. The mouthpiece will be custom designed to fit your mouth and correct your specific sleep apnea symptoms. You’ll get better sleep, feel more rested, and experience overall better health.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you get better rest with a sleep apnea oral appliance.
Are you wondering if you, your spouse, or your child may have sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is one of the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders. It affects an estimated 22 million Americans. The good news is that it is treatable, in more ways than one.
What are the warning signs of sleep apnea? Find out what to look for and how to treat sleep apnea.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you notice one or any combination of these signs or symptoms, you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea.
- – Snoring. The most common warning sign of sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring happens when the muscles in the back of the mouth and throat, including your tongue, relax and block your airway as you sleep. When you breathe, the air is met with resistance and makes the snoring sound as it goes in. It can happen whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth, though it is less common when you breathe through your nose.
- – Teeth Grinding. A lot of people grind their teeth in their sleep, which is another warning sign that sleep apnea may be occurring. Studies are inconclusive as to the nature of the relationship between teeth grinding and sleep apnea, but they so often occur together that it cannot be ignored.
- – Breathing Pauses. Sleep apnea can cause someone to actually stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. The airway can become completely blocked, so much so that the person’s breathing pauses for seconds at a time. This causes the brain to wake up enough to realize that breathing has stopped. The person will often snort or resume snoring and sometimes change position to go back to sleep.
- – Exhaustion or Daytime Sleepiness. If you feel tired during the day or find yourself falling asleep at your desk, you are probably not getting quality sleep at night. Many people with sleep apnea don’t realize that they are waking up slightly throughout the night because they don’t remember it. But snoring and pauses in breathing prevent your body from achieving a deeper sleep cycle that is required for restful, quality sleep.
What to Do if You Believe You or a Loved One Has Sleep Apnea
If you or someone in your family has the warning signs of sleep apnea, there are a few options for sleep apnea treatment.
- – See Your Doctor. If you talk to your doctor about your symptoms, they may refer you to a sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
- – See a Sleep Specialist. If you are referred to a sleep specialist, they may recommend a sleep study. A sleep study may require you to spend the night at a facility where you will be monitored while you sleep. A sleep study may also be administered at home through a device that records information while you sleep. If the results of the sleep study suggest that you are experiencing sleep apnea, a CPAP machine will most likely be recommended. A CPAP includes a mask you wear over your mouth and nose that is attached to a machine that helps you breathe.
- – See Your Dentist. If you talk to your dentist about your sleep apnea symptoms, they may recommend a mouth guard. A sleep apnea mouth guard does double duty, protecting your teeth from the effects of grinding while positioning your tongue and mouth tissues to keep your airway open.
Which Option is Best?
Many patients prefer the sleep apnea mouth guard to the bulky, noisy CPAP machine. The mouth guard is smaller and also prevents damage to your teeth from grinding. 91% of patients have reported improvement in their quality of sleep while using a SomnoDent® sleep apnea mouth guard. However, if your sleep apnea symptoms do not improve with the device, refer back to your doctor or sleep specialist.
Get Better Sleep with Help From Savannah Dental Solutions
If you or a loved one snores at night, grinds their teeth, or seems unusually tired throughout the day, they may be suffering from sleep apnea. Savannah Dental Solutions recommends a SomnoDent® mouth guard to relieve the symptoms and promote better sleep. In many cases it is approved by insurance.
Call (912) 354-1366 today or contact us to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you improve your quality of sleep.
Do you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by snoring and breathing issues at night. If you, your spouse, or your child snore at night, it is very likely that sleep apnea is at play.
Snoring may not seem like a big deal, other than causing an annoyance to your spouse or other members of your family. However, people with sleep apnea actually stop breathing for periods of time while they are asleep. When your breathing pauses long enough, your brain registers that fact and forces you to move or shift to resume breathing. This disrupts your natural sleep cycle and prevents you from getting good quality sleep. It also deprives your body of necessary oxygen for short periods of time.
What Can You Do to Relieve the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Changing your sleep position can improve sleep apnea. If you snore at night, your spouse may nudge you to wake you up enough that you stop snoring. If you roll over or change position, often the snoring stops. Which bears the question: What sleep position is best for sleep apnea?
- – Sleeping on your left side. The best position for sleep apnea is the left side. Sleeping on your left side improves circulation, prevents or reduces acid reflux, and helps your body filter out toxins and waste. Acid reflux prevention is a key improvement, as it is related to snoring and sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side prevents the tongue and throat muscles from sliding back to block your airway.
- – Sleeping on your right side. The next best position for sleep apnea is your right side. It still reduces snoring and improves circulation.
- – Sleeping on your stomach. This position is good for preventing snoring and sleep apnea, but it is not necessarily ideal for other reasons. If you suffer from back or neck pain, sleeping on your stomach may exacerbate that.
The worst sleep position for sleep apnea is on your back. This position allows your tongue and throat muscles to relax and fall back to block your breathing. However, if this is how you prefer to sleep in order to be comfortable, you may need a different form of sleep apnea intervention.
What to Do If Changing Sleep Positions Doesn’t Help
Now that you know what sleep position is best for sleep apnea, what do you do if that doesn’t work? If you still snore or experience symptoms of sleep apnea despite attempts to adjust your sleeping position, you may need additional intervention. Does this mean you need to see a sleep specialist who will prescribe a loud, bulky CPAP machine? Not necessarily.
Your dentist may be able to help by offering you a sleep apnea mouth guard. A mouth guard can help to position your tongue and mouth tissues in a way that prevents snoring and airway obstruction. An added bonus is that it protects the teeth from the harmful effects of grinding, which often accompanies sleep apnea.
One such product is the SomnoDent® mouth guard. This mouthpiece is small, silent, and effective. 91% of patients reported improved sleep quality with regular use and 88% of patients reported using it regularly. SomnoDent® is covered by a 3 year warranty.
Savannah Dental Solutions Provides Sleep Apnea Relief
Are you looking for sleep apnea treatment in Savannah? If you or a loved one are experiencing the negative effects of sleep apnea, Savannah Dental Solutions can help. Through the SomnoDent® mouth guard, you can stop snoring at night and experience better quality sleep. We have fitted many satisfied patients with mouth guards that have changed their lives.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you get better quality sleep and all of the health benefits that go with it.
Sleep apnea is one of the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders, affecting an average of 20 million Americans. The actual number is probably even higher, as many cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed. People who suffer from this disorder experience poor quality sleep, which can negatively affect overall health. Sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular disease, poor cognitive function, and other health issues.
What causes sleep apnea? And what exactly is it? Learn the answers to these questions and more.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping. It can happen for a few seconds at a time, or sometimes longer periods of time. The lack of oxygen eventually wakes the person enough that they start breathing again. Often the person goes right back to sleep without realizing what has happened. Other times it can be difficult to fall back asleep afterwards. These periods where breathing stops can happen anywhere from 5 to 30 times in an hour.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
So, what causes sleep apnea to occur? There are two different causes, which define the two main types of sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This occurs when the muscles in the throat relax and block the airway. The uvula (the flap of tissue that closes your nasal passages when you swallow), the walls of the throat, and the tonsils all collapse when they are not being supported by the throat muscles. The airway narrows or becomes blocked completely, causing snoring, snorting, and lapses in the regular breathing pattern. When your brain realizes that you can’t breathe, you naturally wake up enough to change positions and start breathing again. This pattern can repeat itself all night, preventing you from ever reaching a deep, restful sleep cycle.
Central Sleep Apnea. This type is much less common, but it still occurs. In some cases, the brain itself fails to send the message to the muscles that are responsible for your breathing. When this happens, you stop breathing for a period of time and may wake up gasping for air. It can be difficult to fall back asleep afterwards, resulting in a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep.
Some people have a combination of these two types of sleep apnea, which is even less common.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
There are a handful of factors that increase your chances of developing sleep apnea, such as:
- – Being Overweight. If you’re overweight, there can be fat deposits around your neck and upper airway that may cause obstructive sleep apnea.
- – Smoking. Inflammation of the airways and excess fluid can result from smoking, which can cause sleep apnea.
- – Drinking Alcohol. Alcohol can cause the throat muscles to relax, which increases the chances of sleep apnea. This is why some people snore when they drink.
- – Medical Conditions. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions can all increase your chances of developing sleep apnea.
- – Body Structure. Sometimes the natural structure and size of your body can increase your chances of having sleep apnea. If you have a naturally narrow airway, a thick neck, or blocked nasal passages, it can cause you to have trouble breathing while sleeping.
- – Age. The older you are, the greater your chances of developing sleep apnea.
- – Heredity. If your parents and grandparents suffer from sleep apnea, the chances are higher that you will too.
- – Gender. Sleep apnea is more common in men than in women, although it can occur in either gender.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
There are few different remedies for sleep apnea. Of course, the best option is to treat the problem at the source, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. However, if those options don’t work or if you need immediate treatment, there are other options.
- – CPAP. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine comprises a mask you wear over your mouth and nose that will deliver consistent air pressure to keep your airway open. Some find that wearing a mask to sleep is cumbersome and uncomfortable, but you will most likely get used to it over time. The benefits of CPAP use are definitely worth it.
- – Oral Appliances. Sometimes all that is required to stop sleep apnea is to wear an oral appliance, such as a snoring mouth guard. This type of appliance is worn in the mouth to reposition the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open while you sleep. Some people find it more comfortable and easier to use than a CPAP machine.
- – Oxygen. For those who suffer from central sleep apnea, meaning the cause of the breathing issues is in the brain and not the airway, supplemental oxygen can help. Wearing an oxygen mask or a nasal cannula at night can deliver extra oxygen to lessen the effects of lapses in breathing.
Looking for Sleep Apnea Relief? Savannah Dental Solutions Can Help
Now that you know what causes sleep apnea, you can look into options for treatment. If you suffer from poor quality sleep because of sleep apnea, start with a snoring mouth guard. With sleep apnea treatment, a mouthpiece is a much simpler option than a CPAP machine. Your sleep apnea may be able to be cured more easily and affordably through an oral appliance custom made by the experts at Savannah Dental Solutions.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you get better quality sleep for better quality of life.