According to one estimate, more than 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. As common as this condition is, however, it frequently remains undiagnosed and untreated. That is dangerous because over the long-term, sleep apnea can cause serious health complications and have a detrimental effect on an individual’s quality of life. What exactly is sleep apnea, how can you recognize it, and what can you do about it? On this page, we answer those important questions.
Sleep apnea is a condition that cause a person to experience pauses in breathing throughout the night. There are a few different types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, tissues in the throat overrelax during sleep and partially or fully block the airway. Depending on the severity of the condition, pauses in breathing may occur dozens or hundreds of times each night.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of obstructive sleep apnea, including:
In some cases, it is difficult or impossible to pinpoint OSA’s exact cause. Anyone, regardless of their age or fitness level, could develop this condition.
If you frequently experience any of the following symptoms, it is possible that you are suffering from OSA:
Do you suspect that you have sleep apnea? Rather than trying to diagnose yourself, you should schedule a sleep study. This test, wherein machines monitor your breathing and other vital signs for a night while you sleep, is the best way to determine whether you have OSA and how severe your condition is.
There are several different ways to address sleep apnea. The most commonly prescribed treatment is a CPAP machine, which uses pressurized air to aid unobstructed breathing. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or losing weight, may also be very helpful. Some patients are candidates for upper airway surgery to the correct anatomical abnormalities that cause sleep apnea.
At Family Dental Practice of Newington, we are proud to offer oral sleep appliance therapy as one of our advanced treatment options. An oral appliance is a custom-made device that gently repositions the jaw to keep the airway open at night. The appliance is small, portable, comfortable, and effective for most patients.
The cost of conquering your OSA will depend on which treatment is best for you and how your insurance applies to the treatment. In many cases, medical insurance (not dental insurance) covers a significant portion of the cost of an oral appliance. Our team can also help you to apply for low-interest financing if necessary.
Would you like to learn more about sleep apnea and how we can help you cope with it? Contact our team today.