One of the most important ways that your body has to replenish your life force is through restful sleep. It is during this time that it can repair injuries, recover from illnesses and produce the vital hormones that sustain your well-being. Therefore, if this precious cycle is disturbed or inhibited from fulfilling its purpose, you suffer as a result. One of the major hindrances to this process is sleep apnea. And not only does it interrupt your body’s natural rest period, it can also be life-threatening. This is why your dentist in North Dallas has decided to weigh in with some information that will help if you suffer from this condition.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where you constantly wake up throughout the night due to interruptions in your breathing. It is triggered by a subconscious mechanism in your brain that sends a distress signal to alert you when your breathing has been inhibited.
The inhibition of your breathing is the result of three possible scenarios:
- Obstructive (OSA) – The most common type, this occurs when the lower jaw and tongue become so relaxed that they collapse while you’re sleeping and block your airway.
- Central – This results from a breakdown of the communication between the brain and the muscles that control breathing during sleep.
- Mixed – Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the two.
It’s important to not take this condition lightly, as any interruption in breathing can have dire effects. Furthermore, people with sleep apnea are five times more likely to die from some form of cancer and can suffer from high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or sudden death while sleeping.
Signs that You Have Sleep Apnea
Here are some of the warning signs that you have sleep apnea:
- Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
- Daytime confusion or irritability
- Waking with a sore throat, dry mouth (OSA)
- Persistent, disruptive snoring (OSA)
- Frequent waking throughout the night, as observed by a partner
Thankfully, there are ways to treat sleep apnea, including:
- The CPAP Machine – The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a well-known method of treating sleep apnea, but many users don’t like its cumbersome nature and the loud noise it makes while running.
- An Oral Appliance – An effective alternative is an oral appliance. It is small, easy to transport and makes no noise. Easily fitting into your mouth, the appliance forces your jaw forward while you’re sleeping and causes your throat muscles to remain tense, which keeps your airway open so that vital oxygen can pass through.
If you’ve noticed that you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local dentist to get the help you need. The restful sleep that you require is just an appointment away.
About the Author
A graduate of the Baylor College of Dentistry, Dr. Dale Greer has over 40 years of experience in the field of dentistry. A member of the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Greer lectures, writes and continues to pursue continued education in the world of dentistry. He practices at Dale W. Greer DDS, Inc and can be reached for more information through his website.