How Your Dentist Can Treat Sleep Apnea

Dr. William Whittle and the team at Whittle Dentistry in Benbrook, TX sometimes treat patients that complain of feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep, or they hear complaints about patients who snore during their sleep (usually from their bed partner. Sleep apnea is difficult for the sufferer to identify in themselves; they’re always asleep when it happens.)These are symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA, or sleep apnea, is defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AAASM) as a “sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or a complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to partial reductions (hypopneas) and complete pauses (apneas) in breathing that last at least 10 seconds during sleep. Most pauses last between 10 and 30 seconds, but some may persist for one minute or longer. This can lead to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation, with oxygen levels falling as much as 40 percent or more in severe cases.”

Sleep apnea is associated with sleepiness during important activity, heart problems, and digestive issues. It is a serious disorder that can have serious consequences for the patient. Dr. William Whittle and the team know the symptoms of sleep apnea and can discuss with patients the most effective tips and treatments to help alleviate the effects of sleep apnea.

Common Causes

Sleep apnea can be caused by a number of and a combination of conditions.

  • Obesity
  • Enlarged or inflamed tonsils or adenoids (Adenoids shrink with age and are usually a problem unique to children)
  • Genetics
  • Sedatives or Sleep Aids
  • Alcohol is a depressant and causes the suppression of coordination and muscle control, even while asleep.
  • Hypothyroidism is an abnormally low activity of the thyroid gland; swelling and airway constriction may occur.
  • Acromegaly is an abnormal growth of hands, feet, and face caused by the overproduction of growth hormones by the pituitary gland.
  • Pulmonary disease

Signs and Symptoms

Many of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are not apparent to the sufferer. Often, the symptoms of sleep apnea are reported by the patient’s sleep partner.

  • Pauses in breathing while sleeping because of an airway obstruction
  • Snoring deep and consistently is an indication of an airway obstruction
  • Gasping for air during sleep causing the sleeper to rouse abruptly; often a symptom never noticed by the sufferer
  • Difficulty staying awake or feeling tired during the day
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Frequent headaches

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliances for snoring are soft plastic devices shaped like a mouth protector, and they are worn while sleeping. The appliance holds the tongue and jaw in a position that allows the sleeper to breath normally while they are asleep. Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. Oral appliances are small and easy to carry when traveling. Treatment with oral appliances is reversible and non-invasive.

Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) devices are a more aggressive treatment for sleep apnea. By generating a small amount of positive air pressure in a mask that the patient wears while sleeping, it prevents the sleep apnea sufferer’s airway from collapsing and obstructing the natural flow of air, reduce snoring and prevent gasping for air.

Dr. William Whittle and the professionals at Whittle Dentistry in Benbrook, TX know that sleep apnea is more than an uncomfortable and inconvenient problem. It is a serious medical condition with important consequences for the sufferer. If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, or someone close to you is telling you to quit snoring so much, contact: 817.249.5522

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