What is it?
According to the American Heart Association, more than twelve million people suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is the temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep, which often causes daytime drowsiness. Apnea is a Greek word that means “want of breath.”
When you sleep your body relaxes, and that includes your tongue. In some cases, this causes your tongue to impact your breathing passage, causing the soft tissues to vibrate as you breathe, which produces a snoring sound.
Your tongue can even completely obstruct your breathing passage, and cause oxygen deprivation– which is known as obstructive sleep apnea. When this occurs, your body senses that you’re not getting enough oxygen and wakes you up to protect you from asphyxiation. These recurring cycles of oxygen deprivation and waking up can occur as many as a hundred times a night, and you may not even be aware of them.
Complications of sleep apnea.
Snoring may not be a problem for you, but it can be a serious problem for others who sleep in the same room. In addition, fatigue is an issue. You might have slept all night, but you haven’t gotten enough rest– so it can be difficult to concentrate and you might fall asleep during the day. Another complication is high blood pressure. When the oxygen content of your blood drops from breathing obstruction, it causes an increase in your blood pressure. Finally, sleep apnea can cause other heart problems. Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of both heart attack and stroke. It also leads to an irregular heartbeat and as a result of this it can even lead to sudden death.
If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important to have it checked out right away. Dr. Arnold recommends that you start by having a sleep study done. During a sleep study, a professional will monitor and record data about your body during a full night of sleep. Once Dr. Arnold reviews the data, he will have a much better indication of what’s going on with your breathing during your sleep cycle.
The most common way to treat sleep apnea is to use Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is delivered by a CPAP machine. While this machine is effective, it’s restrictive, noisy, and uncomfortable to wear. Fortunately, there’s a simpler way.
Most mild to moderate sleep apnea can be treated very successfully by simply wearing a mandibular advancement appliance. This snaps comfortably onto your teeth like a sports mouthguard. As you close your mouth, it gently pushes your lower jaw forward, which keeps the tissue of your soft palate from closing off your airway. It’s made to fit your mouth and to temporarily alter the way your teeth come together at night.
A mandibular advancement appliance is less expensive than a CPAP machine, and it’s much more comfortable. It works by opening your breathing passage and helps you to breathe normally through the night. If you have sleep apnea and have been prescribed a CPAP machine, you’ll likely prefer this option.
Make an appointment.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, or if you or your partner has a snoring problem, request an appointment today.
Ever since he was little Dr. J. Fred Arnold wanted to be a dentist. He has lived in Kentucky all of his life, except for three years he spent serving in the Air Force (1984-1987). He and his wife Holly have raised their family here and couldn’t imagine spending life anywhere else. They love the great schools and the emphasis on arts and culture.