Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects millions of Americans. While incredibly common, it’s estimated that 80% of sleep apnea cases are untreated. This disorder causes numerous symptoms, but it can also lead to serious health risks. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping or you notice loud snoring in your partner, they could have untreated sleep apnea. Keep reading to learn more about sleep apnea and what it can cause if treatment is prolonged.
What is Sleep Apnea?
There are multiple types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This disorder causes a blockage in your airway, leading those affected to stop and start breathing, sometimes hundreds of times in one night. Unfortunately, sleep apnea can go untreated because those affected are often unaware that this is happening. That’s why it’s imperative for you to recognize these symptoms in your sleeping partner:
- Loud snoring
- Waking up feeling like you’re gasping or choking
- Waking up with a very dry or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Mood changes
- Sleepiness while driving
Effects of Sleep Apnea
Unfortunately, sleep apnea causes a variety of problems that are mostly related to lack of sleep. Sleepiness throughout the day causes decreased productivity, but it can even lead to greater risks of problems like car accidents and depression. Additionally, obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk of these overall health issues:
- Heart disease
- Dementia (brain damage)
Am I At Risk of Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea can affect anyone, there are some factors that can increase your risk, including:
- Excess weight
- Narrowed airway
- Chronic nasal congestion
- High blood pressure
- Being male
- Family history of sleep apnea
If these factors sound familiar, and you haven’t been sleeping well, there is a good chance that you have untreated sleep apnea. Thankfully, there are ways that your dentist can treat it to give you a great night’s rest.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Your dentist has a way of treating sleep apnea to give you restful nights. In the past, the only way patients could receive treatment was by using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to keep them breathing properly. However, this solution comes with its own set of problems like comfort, noise, and transportation. That’s why your dentist uses custom-made oral appliances to shift your jaw into a position that keeps your airway open for uninterrupted breathing. This allows you to sleep and it decreases your risk of some of the more serious issues that sleep apnea can cause.
If it sounds like you have any of the symptoms or risks of sleep apnea, contact your dentists as soon as possible to take your first step towards a better night’s sleep.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Rob Schumacher is an experienced dentist who remains up to date with the latest dental techniques through continuing education courses. He takes pride in helping his patients achieve a better night’s sleep, while also being able to treat a wide-range of oral health problems. For any questions, he can be reached through his website or by phone at (781) 334-3400.