What Is Sleep Apnea?
At Grove City Dental, we offer treatment for sleep apnea. Snoring comes from air pressure within the body being forced through a narrow passageway. It’s a sign of a potentially dangerous sleep disorder called sleep apnea, for which we offer treatment at our Grove City practice. Snoring and chronic sleepiness are both indications that something could be seriously wrong with a person’s breathing during sleep, because they indicate an airway that is not completely open while sleeping.
How Does Sleep Apnea Work?
Sleep apnea can work in different ways, depending on the cause. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the respiratory muscles to keep breathing during sleep. Much more common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by the airway becoming physically blocked. Typically, the tongue collapses against the soft palate, which in turn collapses against the throat, sealing off the airway. Complex sleep apnea combines OSA and central sleep apnea.
Whatever the cause of the interrupted breathing, the outcome is the same. Not breathing sets off all the brain’s alarm bells, waking the person up to take a breath. It happens so quickly that most people with sleep apnea never remember waking up, even if they’re waking up hundreds of times in a single night. They still feel the effects of not getting a full night’s sleep, however, through symptoms like exhaustion, morning headaches, and difficulty concentrating.
Why Is Sleep Apnea a Problem?
This condition requires careful attention and treatment because it’s a potentially life-threatening condition. If an air passage collapses during sleep, it can cause complete or partial blockage of the airway, interrupting sleep patterns. Symptoms can include drowsiness during the day, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and depression.
If it is left untreated, this condition can result in high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, and possibly stroke. Other conditions that can arise from sleep apnea include eye problems like glaucoma, complications with medications and surgery, morning headaches, mood swings, memory problems, and nocturia (the need to urinate frequently at night).
What Does Sleep Apnea Have to Do with Teeth?
In addition to the short-term and long-term effects of sleep deprivation, people with OSA tend to be more vulnerable to developing moderate to severe periodontitis, and they’re also more likely to have trouble with their jaw joints.
Studies have shown that the jaw tends to reflexively clench during a sleep apnea episode to try to keep the airway open. All that strain can result in temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), which have symptoms like pain when chewing, chronic headaches, damage to the teeth, and neck and shoulder pain.
Dental Professionals Are a Great Resource
The reason dentists are often the first health providers to recognize the signs of sleep apnea and diagnose it is that dental health effects are a common complication. (Just one of many reasons why regular dental appointments are so important, not just for oral health but overall health.) Treatment typically involves continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or nighttime oral appliances that push the lower jaw or the tongue forward.
How Can Grove City Dental Help?
This condition affects millions of Americans. Here at Grove City Dental, it’s our goal to be able to treat every patient troubled by this condition. Dr. Schumann focuses on non-invasive procedures that can solve the condition before suggesting surgery, and we work with SleepMedRX to help our patients achieve healthier sleep.