Sleep plays an integral role in your overall wellbeing. A good night’s rest is what allows you to approach the day with a refreshed mind and positive attitude. Getting sufficient sleep is also essential to your health; numerous studies have linked sleep problems and disorders with an array of health problems. Sleep apnea is one such disorder that affects millions of Americans. Characterized by cessations in breath during sleep, sleep apnea produces an array of symptoms, the most well-known being snoring. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have a serious effect on your health.
If you believe sleep apnea is the reason for your inability to sleep well at night, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Julie Spaniel. The trusted Portland dentist has dedicated her career to helping patients achieve optimal oral and overall health. She is expertly trained and experienced in detecting the signs of sleep apnea, and can recommend a suitable course of treatment based on your symptoms and unique case.
What Is Sleep Apnea and How Does It Affect Your Overall Wellbeing?
There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the airway is blocked by excessive tissue in the back of the tongue, throat or nose. Central sleep apnea occurs as a result of the brain failing to send proper signals to muscles responsible for breathing. Mixed sleep apnea, also known as complex sleep apnea, is a mixture of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects more than one’s ability to sleep. A person with sleep apnea may notice they feel exhausted during the day, or have difficulty concentrating or remembering things. Individuals with sleep apnea have an increased risk of automobile and workplace accidents. Research also shows that sleep apnea increases the risk of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain cancers.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Symptoms of sleep apnea vary from patient to patient. Common symptoms include:
- Loud, uncontrollable snoring
- Gasping for air or choking during sleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Headaches, especially in the morning
- Frequent urination throughout the night
- Cognitive dysfunction including memory problems
- Daytime fatigue or drowsiness
- Irritability or mood swings
Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, we recommend you schedule an appointment with Dr. Spaniel. Believe it or not, many of the signs of sleep apnea appear in the mouth first. For instance, one sign of sleep apnea is tooth grinding (bruxism). Chronic tooth grinding causes wear and tear on the teeth, which can be easily detected during a routine dental exam.
If Dr. Spaniel suspects you have sleep apnea, she can recommend you to a sleep specialist. Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a sleep study. During a sleep study, a device will record your breathing pattern, brain activity, eye movements, heart rate and snoring while you sleep. The sleep specialist will evaluate the information to determine whether you have sleep apnea.
Modern treatment options for sleep apnea include wearing an oral appliance, which Dr. Spaniel can fit you for. Oral appliances are sleek and portable devices (designed similarly to a mouth guard) that work to keep the airway passages open for unobstructed breathing. Many patients prefer oral appliances because they are small, light and, unlike CPAP machines, do not make any noise, undoubtedly increasing their chances of a good night’s rest.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with Summerwood Family Dental. Dr. Spaniel would be happy to discuss your symptoms and possible treatment options. Contact our office by calling or emailing our office today.