If you snore, wake up feeling unrested, or find yourself falling asleep during the day, you might be one of the millions of people struggling with undiagnosed sleep apnea – a serious sleep disorder in which you stop breathing multiple times throughout the night.
This condition often goes undiagnosed for years, and during that time it can cause severe health consequences.
If you have any of the symptoms or signs of sleep apnea, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider and request a referral to a sleep specialist.
What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?
The most common – and most well-known – sign of sleep apnea is snoring. While the snoring associated with sleep apnea is often ragged and punctuated by stops and starts as breathing is interrupted, snoring is not the only sign. Sleep apnea can exist without snoring, and snoring doesn’t always mean sleep apnea.
Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Being overweight
- Being male
- Having a family history of the condition
- Having a small airway in the nose, throat, or mouth
Symptoms that might indicate sleep apnea include:
- Drowsiness throughout the day
- Waking up feeling unrested
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty learning, remembering, or concentrating
- Feeling irritable or experiencing mood swings
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
Sleep apnea is also associated with high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, smoking, heart disease, and stroke. Because of the increased sleepiness during the day, those with sleep apnea are also at a higher risk for problems on the job and traffic accidents. Plus, snoring can wreak havoc in personal relationships.
Treating Sleep Apnea and Snoring
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a sleep specialist, you will probably be offered treatment with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. CPAP therapy requires that while you are sleeping you wear a mask, which is attached to a machine that pushes air into your nose or mouth. This constant flow of air helps keep your airway open and allows you to breathe uninterrupted throughout the night.
While this treatment is effective for those who tolerate it, as many as half the people for whom CPAP is prescribed are unable to tolerate it or have trouble staying compliant with it. Additionally, the bulkiness of the machine, plus the fact that it is powered by electricity, can make travelling or vacationing with the machine inconvenient. Many people also dislike the noise of the machine.
Fortunately, CPAP therapy is not the only option for treating sleep apnea.
At Brigham Dental Care, we can create customized oral appliances that you wear while you sleep. These appliances work in different ways depending on your specific needs to keep your airway open while you sleep and prevent snoring.
Call to Learn More about Sleep Dentistry
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or snoring, call our Morristown dental practice today and request an appointment with sleep dentist Matt Ebert, DMD. Dr. Ebert will assess your condition and determine whether you could benefit from an oral appliance to treat snoring and sleep apnea.