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General & Preventive Dentistry
Are you tired, stressed out, and moody because of interrupted sleep? Sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops for periods of 10 seconds or longer, can interrupt deep sleep that makes people feel rested. Non-surgical dental appliances have proven more effective than surgery for many sleep apnea patients.
What is Sleep Apnea?
When a sleeping person stops breathing for 10 or more seconds, they have “apnea.” OSAS, or obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, is one type of sleep apnea. Lack of adequate breath during sleep reduces airflow, causing the brain to tell the body to wake up and breathe. In some cases, sleep apnea patients only move into a lighter stage of sleep, while other times, patients wake completely.
What’s the Problem?
Many factors may contribute to airway blockage, from the size of passages and oral or airway structures, to swelling of passageways or position of the tongue. Disrupted deep sleep can affect mood, health, and cause daytime sleepiness. The added stress and fatigue can cause lack of concentration, loss of memory, and accidents in the workplace or while driving. Other health risks include high blood pressure and heart problems, and even a risk of premature death. The sleep apnea patient’s snores can disturb a sleeping partner’s rest, too.
Non-Surgical Sleep Apnea Therapies
A few tests can determine whether you suffer from OSAS, and non-surgical therapies may alleviate the problem. A nasal mask (cPAP) can deliver air to keep nasal passages open during sleep. Even more effective, patients may now wear dental appliances that reposition the tongue or mandible (lower jawbone). A Swedish study showed that the anterior mandibular positioning dental device (AMP) is actually more effective than surgical therapies. The same study stated that adverse health effects and appliance repairs were rare.
According to experts, sleep apnea is an under-diagnosed condition, and more men than women suffer. If your sleeping partner says you snore or stop breathing while asleep, or if you experience daytime sleepiness, contact our Fort Worth dental office for a consultation. A sleep apnea device may improve your quality of life. It’s just another way your dentist can help you smile.