What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a widespread sleep disorder in which there are pauses in one’s breathing or occurrences of shallow breathing during sleep. Classified as a dyssomnia (sleep disorder), there are three forms of Sleep Apnea – central, obstructive and mixed. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which we will focus on today, constitutes over 80% of all the cases, is by far the common and is a result of a blockage in the airway. It could be tonsils, a larger tongue, or even structures within the nasal passage that relax during sleep, causing the blockage. As well as potentially having very serious health implications, it often causes snoring and the myriad resulting problems.
Sleep Apnea and Dental Care
Now, you may understandably be wondering ‘how can my dentist help with my sleeping problems?’. Well, although we cannot diagnose your OSA here at Beachside Complete Dental Care – you will need a respiratory sleep physician and to undergo a sleep study for that side of things – there are effective treatments we can provide. Not only are we able to assess your risk for OSA and other sleep disorders, we can perform an examination of your mouth and throat area to discover the likely cause of the blockage.
Treatment for OSA – What You Need to Know
Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) Machine
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the OSA you suffer from, but the most common is to use a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine. After preliminary tests, we can refer you to a GP who, in tandem with a qualified sleep physician, can determine whether this treatment would be of benefit to you. Use of a CPAP, as the name suggests, involves applying mild air pressure through the mouth to prevent any obstructions within the airway. Many patients have reported significant improvements in their sleep quality and energy levels using the CPAP machine.
Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS)
Another popular treatment option is the use of a Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS), an oral appliance that is somewhat similar to a custom mouthguard. They are individually designed to sustain a positive airflow during sleep, tackling OSA in an effective manner by ensuring even breathing throughout the night.
Health Risks of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea
The symptoms of undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea range from snoring and low-level energy levels at the less severe end of the scale, to low moods and depression in the worst cases. Still more worrying, many studies have shown the effects of undiagnosed OSA range from hypertension to an increased risk of strokes, and even heart diseases and cardiac arrest. If you feel you may be suffering from OSA, or suffer from the any of the symptoms associated with it, please contact us today on (03) 9781 3633 for a professional consultation.