Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders​

Dental appliances for sleep apnea

Sleep is a necessary part of your daily life. Without sleep your body cannot repair or heal itself. Dental sleep medicine is an area of dentistry that focuses on the treatment of sleep related breathing disorders which can prevent you from sleeping soundly and can even be harmful to your health. Such sleep disorders include snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in the upper airway as you breathe. Snoring is common in men and occurs frequently in pregnant and menopausal women.

Obesity, nasal obstruction, alcohol and smoking are all causes of snoring. Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It is characterized by pauses in breathing and/or instances of shallow breaths when asleep. Sleep apnea can be serious if not timely treated.

There are a number of therapies and appliances that may be prescribed for sleep apnea. One such therapy is called Oral Appliance Therapy.

Oral Appliance Therapy can be used to treat both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in adults. An oral appliance is a device similar to orthodontic retainers joined by a flexible connector and worn while asleep. The device allows your airway to remain open by supporting the lower jaw in a slightly forward position and providing forced air through flexible tubes. These devices are best designed and fitted by experienced dentists trained in sleep disorder therapy. In some severe cases, surgery may be an option for treatment.

If you feel you are experiencing the symptoms of a sleep related breathing disorder, it is best to see your doctor for a formal diagnosis and treatment.

FAQs

Some of the symptoms you might notice, which could point to a sleep disorder are:

  • Daytime sleepiness, tiredness
  • Poor concentration & memory
  • Morning headaches
  • Mood changes & Irritability

And whilst sleeping:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking sensation at night
  • Gasping for air at night
It is well documented that having disordered sleep is closely related to a number of serious health conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure, and memory loss. The long term effects or repeatedly lowered blood oxygen levels can have serious effects on your heart and brain.

There is a strong link between disordered sleep and bruxism, the involuntary teeth grinding and jaw clenching that often occurs during sleep. Because this occurs during sleep you may not know it is happening and over time, your teeth will become worn and cracked from “bruxism“. Besides not knowing you are having a bad night’s sleep, you are also doing damage to your teeth.

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