Some 2-9% of American adults have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, and many cases go undiagnosed. More men than women have sleep apnea, and the most common symptom is snoring.
You may be wondering why there’s a post about sleep apnea on a dentist’s blog. Dr. Melissa Daza and Dr. Michelle Schwartz at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental are trained in working with patients who have sleep apnea.
Some people respond well to treatment with a dental appliance, and we can custom-make an appliance to fit you perfectly.
Snoring and sleep apnea
Snoring may be annoying and it may be the topic of jokes, but it’s also cause for alarm. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing while you’re sleeping.
Some other common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Gasping for air while you’re sleeping
- A dry mouth when you wake up
- A headache when you wake up in the morning
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Sleepiness during the day
- Problems concentrating
- Frequent irritability
Different types of sleep apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. Here, we explain the differences.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. When you have it, the tissues at the back of your throat collapse and temporarily block your airway. It can make high blood pressure worse and can contribute to chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Central sleep apnea
This type of sleep apnea is far less common. It’s a malfunction of your central nervous system, which fails to send the signals that tell your body to continue breathing. It’s often related to some other condition, such as heart disease.
Complex sleep apnea
Complex sleep apnea involves both of the other types.
Risk factors for sleep apnea
Anyone can develop sleep apnea, but some people are at a greater risk compared to others. You’re more likely to develop sleep apnea if you:
- Are obese
- Have a thick neck
- Have a narrower-than-average throat
- Have enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Are male
- Have a family history of sleep apnea
- Are older
- Are a smoker
- Use certain drugs like sedatives or tranquilizers
- Drink alcohol
- Have a stuffy nose
- Have cardiovascular disease
Why talk to your dentist
When you come in for a dental appointment, we check for signs of sleep apnea, such as ground down or cracked teeth. Many people who have sleep apnea sleep with their mouths open, which may contribute to tooth decay or erosion of the tooth enamel.
In cases of obstructive sleep apnea, a specially designed dental appliance can help keep the tissue at the back of your throat from collapsing and blocking your airways.
If you’re a snorer, or you have other symptoms of sleep apnea, schedule an appointment at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental in Chicago, Illinois. We may be able to help.