Despite its effects, sleep apnea doesn’t get talked about much in the dental sphere. While anyone can have it, it mostly affects older men and women who are obese. Typically, a person with sleep apnea will be oblivious of its symptoms. Even when they are aware, they wave their symptoms off as a sign of temporary fatigue.
Sleep apnea can result in severe health issues such as heart problems and high blood pressure, and it may even cause shortness of breath if left untreated. People with sleep apnea usually snore loudly while sleeping and often complain of daytime tiredness after a full night’s rest.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone and must be treated before it leads to a more long-term problem. That’s why our dental team has written this piece to help you discover the symptoms and causes of sleep apnea and where you can get sleep apnea treatment in Elkin, NC.
Let’s begin by explaining what sleep apnea is.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing patterns while someone sleeps. People with this disorder frequently stop breathing while they are asleep, which can continue until they wake up for the day.
When left untreated, individuals with this disorder face the risk of hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, stroke, cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart’s muscle tissues), and heart attacks.
Sleep apnea has also been cited as one of the leading causes of work-related accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and motivation declines in students and workers.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea?
People with sleep apnea experience periods of interrupted breathing, which is the result of a “blockage.” A blockage happens when the airway collapses at the back of the throat. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Some other factors that contribute to sleep apnea include:
- Nasal congestion
- An underlying neurological issue
- Lax muscles and other tissues in the throat and mouth
- Thickened tissues and extra fat around the airway
- Colds and allergies
- Heart or kidney issues
- Large or swollen tonsils
- Thyroid problems
Patients with central sleep apnea often suffer from a central nervous system disorder. This type of sleep apnea is a bit more complicated compared to obstructive sleep apnea.
To prevent sleep apnea from causing long-term damage to a patient’s health and life, a dentist must treat the symptoms as soon as they are noticed.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Elkin, NC
The treatment for sleep apnea depends on the type of sleeping disorder you’re experiencing. For mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, conventional treatments may be all that are required. The traditional treatments used for mild obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Weight loss exercises for overweight people.
- Reducing the consumption of alcohol and sleeping pills that cause the airway to collapse during sleep.
- Using a wedge pillow while sleeping.
- Changing sleeping posture.
- Using breathing strips or nasal sprays to enhance airflow and reduce snoring during sleep.
- Avoiding sleep deprivation by going to bed on time to get a full 8 hours of sleep.
If you have a severe or moderate case of sleep apnea, your dentist will recommend other treatments such as:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): a CPAP machine is a device that passes air pressure through a mask as you sleep. This increases the air pressure around your mouth and nose and stops your airway passage from collapsing. Hence, it prevents sleep apnea and snoring.
- Oral Appliance Therapy: With this treatment, your dentist will provide an oral appliance to keep your throat open while you sleep. Oral appliances are preferable for people who cannot tolerate the use of a CPAP machine and are easier to use. When you visit your dentist, they can help you find the right oral appliance for you.
Schedule an Appointment for a Sleep Apnea Appliance in Elkin, NC
You don’t want to wait out your symptoms to see if they will get worse, and you shouldn’t have to go through your days with fatigue. Communicating with your dentist can help you understand if you’re experiencing sleep apnea symptoms and if you need sleep apnea treatment in Elkin, NC. Schedule an appointment with us today.