Sleep Apnea is a condition where the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely preventing airflow. In the United States, more than 12 million people suffer from sleep apnea. Drs. Larry and Gary Kennedy offer treatment for sleep apnea to their patients.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
If this condition goes untreated, it can have serious consequences. Some of these include high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, impotence, cardiovascular disease, and frequent headaches. Individuals suffering from sleep apnea may also experience extreme fatigue and may be more susceptible to injury due to lack of quality sleep.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Some types of sleep apnea can be treated with a custom-fit mouthpiece, while some require a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep Apnea can be caused by an individual’s physical build and medical conditions. These include obesity, nostril structure, certain genetic disorders, premature birth, neuromuscular conditions, and heart or kidney failure. There are three main types of sleep apnea:
● Obstructive sleep apnea: This occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airways during sleep.
● Central sleep apnea: This happens when the brain stops sending proper signals to the muscles and causes irregular breathing.
● Mixed apnea: A mix of both obstructive and central apnea.
Who is at risk of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea typically affects men, overweight individuals and people over the age of 40. However, even young kids can develop sleep apnea. Once diagnosed by a sleep physician, we, at Kennedy Dental, treat sleep apnea with a custom-made mouthpiece device that keeps your airways clear during sleep. Many patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea have reported much success with their mouthpiece. The treatment method is also useful for those who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine and for patients with loud snoring even if they have no sleep apnea. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can eventually lead to problematic health conditions such as heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, cognitive and behavioral disorders.
How can dentistry help?
Dentists are often the first to recognize signs of restricted airway that could lead to sleep apnea. We do this by evaluating your oral tissue during your exam. Furthermore, Dr. Kennedy will ask many questions to determine your sleep quality. This one of the many reasons frequent dental appointments are important. Mouthguards are a good place to start with sleep apnea treatment and should be tested before moving to more complicated respiratory systems or surgery. Sometimes there are jaw alignment issues we can correct or we can provide an oral appliance that helps maintain the tongues proper position for improved nighttime breathing. Our team at Kennedy Dental is trained to assist you with sleep breathing challenges.