Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when you are asleep. The most prevalent form of this disorder is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In this form of the disorder, your breathing is hampered by anatomical blockages. For some individuals, their breathing may stop altogether and then restart after a few seconds.
One of the most common things that raise the risk of developing the disorder is our age. Specialists expect a person above 50 years old to have snoring issues related to the disorder due to that person’s muscles being less toned as he or she ages.
When we say muscles, these mean our throat muscles, our tongue, our soft palate, hard palate, jaws, and others. The laxity of these muscles often hinders the steady flow of air as we exhale and inhale, causing us to breathe heavier as we try to pull in more air. The effort causes the blockages to vibrate resulting in us snoring while we sleep.
Obesity is a vicious cycle for those who suffer from sleep apnea. Being overweight contributes to a thicker neck and throat, adding to the risk of having a sleeping disorder. Aside from these, a bigger abdomen can also affect our breathing, leading to difficulties in respiration during sleep. Having the disorder can mean you are more prone to obesity while being obese can cause you to develop the disorder.
In connection to obesity and a large abdomen, our sleeping position can also cause us to develop this particular sleeping disorder. The best position during slumber is on our side. Sleeping on either our left or right side helps to open up our airways more. Compared to a supine or prone position.
While sleeping supine, our chin gets closer to our chest, resulting in a breathing restriction in our throat. A prone position causes us to twist our neck to one side to be able to breathe. This results in a narrower throat and airway. Some medications can also cause us to be more relaxed than usual.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are signs that you may be losing sleep due to this disorder, despite thinking that you slept the whole night. Those who have this sleep issue are not fully aroused from their sleep, even with their snores going full throttle.
Despite not awakening, their sleep cycle is interrupted by the stops and starts of respiration. You do not complete a sleep cycle because of interrupted sleep. There are stages in sleep that are important in our health and recuperation.
If we never fully complete a sleep cycle we are not rested. This presents as drowsiness, loss of concentration, being cranky, and sometimes even falling asleep at most inopportune moments the next day.
Dentists are usually the first people to suspect if you have sleep apnea because they may notice something wrong with your teeth, your bite, or your jaw. A weathered down tooth can be a sign of bruxism, which is also a symptom of a sleeping disorder. Our bite can also be abnormal enough for the dentist to ask about your sleeping condition. Since your Vancouver wa dentist can see the state of your oral cavity, he can easily find signs that may indicate sleep apnea.
Treatment for sleep apnea depends on how severe your case is. Severe cases need to be addressed by applying continuous air pressure to the airways to prevent the muscles and tissue from collapsing and becoming an obstruction. Mild to moderate cases of the disorder can be treated by dental appliances that your dentist can prescribe. Do take note that night guards are better if they are prescribed by your dentist compared to buying over the counter ones.