Causes of Sleep Apnea
There are several causes of sleep apnea. Some patients may have a naturally narrow throat or jaw, which obstructs airflow. Other patients may have excess fat that accumulates around their neck, which can obstruct the airways. Some patients may have large tonsils, which can obstruct the airways. Some patients may be overweight, which can place added pressure on the airways.
Sleep apnea has many causes, including:
- Medical conditions, such as diabetes
- Poor sleep habits, such as smoking, drinking and using electronics
Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway. This blockage causes snoring and gasping noises, as well as fatigue and excessive sleepiness while sleeping.
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of both OSA and CSA.
Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition. In order to properly diagnose it, a sleep study is usually required. This study records oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing patterns, and eye movement.
A sleep study is also essential for determining the best treatment for the patient. The treatment depends on the severity of the condition, which is determined by the results of the study.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP therapy delivers pressurized air through a mask worn over the nose while sleeping. This pressurized air keeps the airway open to prevent obstruction.
Dental sleep medicine primarily concentrates on the usage of oral appliance therapy to address sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that blocks airflow and causes snoring. If left untreated, it can result in high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, depression, obesity, diabetes, and more.
If you have sleep apnea, the best way to treat it is with a CPAP machine. However, many people find the CPAP uncomfortable and difficult to use, so they're looking for an alternative. For people who can't tolerate wearing a CPAP, a custom oral appliance may be just what you need. Oral appliances are more comfortable than CPAP, and they're also easier to travel with.
Oral appliance therapy (OAT)
OAT is a type of dental sleep medicine that treats snoring and sleep apnea. These devices are usually worn at night to reposition the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep the airway open.
Oral appliances are generally simple, comfortable, and custom-made to fit each patient's mouth. Patients do not have to deal with CPAP machines, tubes, or masks, making oral appliances much more convenient for patients. Oral appliances work by holding the lower jaw forward to prevent the tongue and soft tissues from blocking the upper airway.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
Those who cannot tolerate CPAP or who find it uncomfortable may also benefit from a mandibular advancement device. This device is custom-fitted to your mouth to move your jaw forward, which opens your airway.
Lifestyle habits to prevent sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by the repetitive cessation of breathing. This can have serious negative consequences, including excessive daytime drowsiness, decreased productivity at work, and an increased risk of accidents. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent the disorder.
Lifestyle habits can help prevent sleep apnea. Simple changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol before bed can improve symptoms.