ARC Dental Health

Sleep Apnea - Do I Have It?

Your six to eight hours of slumber every night is an important part of life. It gives your brain a chance to recover from the stresses of the day and prepare for tomorrow. 

If you’re waking up most mornings feeling unrested and you’re tired all day, there’s a reason your “good night’s sleep” isn’t refreshing you. You could be tossing and turning and not realizing it. Or you’re up half the night counting sheep and doing everything you can to sleep, but you just can’t.

In the case of many patients with sleep apnea, both of these situations are common. Sleep apnea is a condition that is hard to diagnose unless the patient is showing specific symptoms or they sleep with a partner.

But sleep apnea is a significant medical condition that should be addressed as soon as possible. It can cause you to stop breathing for seconds or longer in your sleep, resulting in chronic and severe problems.

Anyone who thinks they may have a sleep disorder, especially an apnea-based one, shouldn’t ignore the issue. Over time, certain disorders can develop into serious or fatal conditions.

At ARC Dental Health Dental, we can help you work with your physician to check for signs of sleep apnea. If you have this diagnosis, we have treatment plans to reduce the symptoms—and the dangers that come with them.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common, although dangerous, sleep disorder. It interrupts your sleep cycle’s natural flow, often causing you to stop breathing, then restart. Since this breathing interruption happens multiple times in a session of sleep, it keeps your brain from getting the rest it needs.

One way to learn if you have sleep apnea is to use a special machine that records your breathing and snoring. If your “apneas,” or breaks in breathing,” happen for ten seconds or more, you have sleep apnea.

A more severe type of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea. The symptoms are the same but last longer and are more likely to result in chronic breathing conditions or even fatalities. Obstructive apnea, luckily, is more common than central apnea.

All sleep apnea conditions occur because your unconscious brain controls your breathing. But sometimes, the muscles in your throat can’t keep the airways open, for whatever reason, when you’re asleep. The struggle or gasp for air wakes you up to a point, then restarts the breathing session.

In severe enough conditions, the struggle for air doesn’t wake you up at all, and the results could be fatal. Sleep apnea is not a medical problem you should play around with. It’s a serious issue.

How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?

The majority of patients with sleep apnea only find out they have a problem because their sleeping partner points it out. It can be terrifying to have the person you’re in bed with suddenly stop breathing, gasp for air, and breathe again.

But if you sleep alone, you can still narrow down your symptoms for your doctor or dentist. If you have this condition, chances are, you never feel alert and refreshed after sleeping. You could be “asleep” for the entire night and still wake up tired.

Your blood oxygen levels in the morning will likely be low since your brain struggled to circulate the blood. Eventually, you’ll start to notice memory problems, and you may develop cardiovascular issues. High blood pressure is a common side diagnosis in sleep apnea patients.

If you think you have any of these symptoms, don't wait. Talk to your doctor or schedule a visit at ARC Dental Health to see how we can help.

Dental Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Not all dentists are trained specialists who can treat sleep apnea. Our experts have studied the field of dental sleep medicine. In this specialized area, oral appliance therapies are used to reduce symptoms in sleep disorders.

Patients who have trouble breathing because of obstructive sleep apnea and other disorders can benefit from this type of therapy. Your lack of restful sleep carries over to the quality of your day and your overall health. Without sleep, your physical and mental wellness is negatively affected.

With oral appliance therapy treatments, we work with your physician to help you get your sleep back. 

The first specialists to use oral appliances to treat people with breathing problems were dentists. Over the years, we’ve perfected the devices to the custom-fit, comfortable appliances used today.

These devices are worn by the patient when they sleep. They enter your mouth as a retainer would. The custom fitting and special design works as a manual airway opener, keeping you breathing even when your airways can’t. A collapsed airway results in snoring, but if it isn’t fixed, you won’t be able to breathe at all.

Your specific oral appliance would be tailored to your symptoms. The goal is to support your jaw in a way that holds your airway open without disturbing your rest.

ARC Dental Health Can Help You With Your Sleep Apnea

Oral appliance therapy is a specialized field of dentistry, so treatments have to be performed by a trained dentist. At our office, we have the knowledge, equipment, and experience to get your sleep—and your life—back to normal.

Before we create a treatment plan for your sleep disorder, we’ll review your medical history and any current medications you’re on. From there, we will work with you and your physician, if necessary, to devise a plan of action.

Together, we’ll get your sleep apnea symptoms under control. With restful sleep, your body and mind will be able to function on the optimal level they’re supposed to. And if you have a sleeping partner, they’ll be able to get their full night of slumber back, too!

Contact ARC Dental Health today to talk to our friendly staff. We’ll guide you along the way as you learn how to live with sleep apnea and still get the rest you need to enjoy your daily activities.

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