There are an estimated 22 million Americans living with sleep apnea. There are also thought to be many more who have this condition but are currently undiagnosed.
It has a knock-on effect at work and even on the road. It has been estimated that treating all cases of sleep apnea would save the economy around $100 billion per year!
For some time now, sleep apnea has been treated with CPAP machines. Used perfectly, they’re the gold standard.
But CPAP can be difficult to use. Increasingly patients are seeking other options. Dental appliances can be more user-friendly and give great results.
Let’s take a look at the different types of sleep apnea and how your Brentwood, CA dentist can help you get a great night’s sleep.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that interrupts breathing during sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you will repeatedly stop breathing during the night. The body wakes you up when this happens to force you to take a breath.
It affects men more than women. People of all ages can develop it, but those who are over 50 or overweight individuals are more susceptible to it.
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Problems at work due to fatigue
- Higher risk of stroke and heart attack
It also puts you at a higher risk of having a car or work-related accident. In children, it affects concentration and can lead to poor behavior and underachievement at school.
There are three main types of sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when your body stops the air from flowing freely into your lungs.
The obstruction is caused by the soft tissues in the throat relaxing and narrowing the airway. Your breath can become very shallow and sometimes the airway can close. The body then recognizes it is not breathing and jerks you awake to start breathing again.
For someone with OSA, this happens many times during the night. Most sufferers also snore, but not everyone who snores has OSA.
It is associated with being obese or having a naturally large neck. It can also occur when you have a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or COPD.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is different from OSA because it is not caused by obstructions.
Instead, the brain momentarily fails to provide the signal to breathe. This is a much less common form, affecting around 20% of sufferers.
It can usually be linked to a disease or trauma affecting the brainstem. This part of the brain connects it to the spinal cord. Stroke, heart attack, and Parkinson’s disease among other conditions can cause a person to develop central sleep apnea.
This type of sleep apnea cannot be treated using a dental device. Treatment normally involves medication or using a CPAP machine.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. It could be diagnosed in an initial sleep study. Sometimes it is diagnosed because a person does not respond well to CPAP treatment.
In complex sleep apnea, apnea events can continue in spite of continuous positive air pressure treatment. Treating complex sleep apnea usually requires a combination of approaches to find one that best suits the patient. It is the least common type of sleep apnea, with a tiny percentage of people affected.
Sleep Apnea Dentistry
At first, it might not seem like there’s much of a link between sleep apnea and dentistry. However, your Newbury Park, CA dentist can fit you with a dental appliance that can make a world of difference.
What Are Dental Appliances for Sleep Apnea?
There are two main types – mandibular advancement and tongue retaining devices.
Both have the same goal – to keep the airway free of obstruction. The mandibular advancement device does this by moving the lower jaw slightly forward. The tongue retaining device stops the tongue from rolling back and blocking your airway while you are asleep.
You can find dental appliances online that claim to cure snoring and sleep apnea. While they may help you not to snore, an over-the-counter device is unlikely to resolve sleep apnea. That means that you won’t get the benefit of improved sleep that a dentist-fitted appliance will bring.
Who Is a Candidate for Sleep Apnea Dentistry?
Dental appliances can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. They work best in mild to moderate cases. This includes both adults and children.
CPAP is an excellent treatment, but it can be challenging for some users. Some people find it difficult to use and hard to sleep wearing the mask. It’s also bulky and tricky to use when traveling.
Dental appliances are typically much easier to tolerate. There’s no machine to fill with water and no mask to wear. You simply place the device in your mouth and go to sleep.
Slip it into your purse or washbag when traveling and you’re good to go.
They are also less expensive than CPAP machines and they can help with teeth grinding and snoring.
Schedule a Sleep Apnea Consultation
Sleep apnea is no joke and it can seriously impact your enjoyment of everyday life. For mild and moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea, dental devices can make a huge difference. They’re easy to use, cost-effective, and totally transportable.
Most importantly, they can stop snoring and keep your airways open all night long.
At Newbury Dental Group, we provide specialist treatments for sleep apnea in Los Angeles. Call us at 805.519.8459 or complete our online form today!