Sleep Apnea: What It Is and Potential Treatment Options
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects an estimated 22 million people in America. Sadly, the bulk majority of the moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health conditions. Believe it or not, your dentist is often the best source for sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment. Keep reading to learn more about sleep apnea, potential treatment options, and how a sleep apnea dentist in Annandale can help.
What Exactly Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a specific type of sleep disorder that causes a person’s breathing to be interrupted while they are asleep. In some cases, these disruptions (scientifically known as apneas) can occur hundreds of times each night. The most severe form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the airway is partially or fully blocked. The scary part of it all is that you are generally not aware that anything is wrong.
OSA has been linked to some of the following serious health issues:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
The good news is that there are several different forms of treatment for sleep apnea, regardless of how serious it is. A sleep apnea dentist can work with you to determine the severity of your condition and the best course of treatment.
If you are overweight and diagnosed with sleep apnea, losing weight is an excellent first step in treating your condition. A weight reduction program will help you shed pounds and reduce the number of apneas you experience at night. In many cases, nothing more is needed.
The most common treatment recommendation is an oral appliance, similar to that of a mouthguard. This appliance will hold your lower jaw in a more forward position that allows the airway to expand and usually eliminate the apneas at night. Don’t worry; it sounds uncomfortable, but the appliance will be customized for your mouth, and we will work with you to find a comfortable, relaxed position.
In more severe cases of sleep apnea, a CPAP machine is recommended. With this treatment, you will wear a mask at night. The mask has an attached pump designed to push air through the mouth or nose, depending on the required type of mask. That helps to maintain standard breathing patterns while you sleep.
Surgery is the most invasive treatment method and is left as a last resort when no other form of treatment is effective. With surgical intervention, excess tissue is removed from the back of the throat and mouth, often along with the adenoids and tonsils. If necessary, the jaw can also be repositioned to provide additional space behind the tongue.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has sleep apnea, please call Evergreen Dental Wellness today at 703-215-9630 to book an appointment. Proudly serving the residents of Annandale, Dr. Richard Fischer and his dental staff will put you at ease as they help you understand your condition and work with you to develop the best course of treatment for sleep apnea.
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