Thousands of adult Bahamians suffer from sleep apnea. It’s a problem that can arise from several reasons such as weight gain, alcohol consumption and even genetics. Finding the correct cause and implementing a sustainable and minimally invasive approach to treatment can make a significant difference in one’s quality of your life.
In this column, we will discuss the benefits of wearing a dental appliance in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. More specifically, sleep apnea happens when your airway is being obstructed, which then reduces or completely stops airflow. When your breathing stops, that period is called “apnea”. Some people are unaware they suffer from sleep apnea. When left undiagnosed or untreated, sleep apnea can result in serious health challenges; like high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea.
Also, untreated sleep apnea may result in the following: increased risk of diabetes, poor memory, male impotence and decreased sex drive, headaches and migraines, increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, increase in gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) or an increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
What causes sleep apnea?
There’s a long list of reasons as to why many persons have sleep apnea. Some factors include:
- Obesity due to fatty deposits around the neck and throat causing airway narrowing
- Thicker or larger necks causing narrower airways
- Males are two to three times more susceptible
- The older you are
- Consumption of alcohol or sedatives increases your risk. These substances relax the muscles in the throat, causing them to collapse and narrow the airway.
- Smoking increases the inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway
Signs that you or someone you love may have Sleep Apnea include: snoring, sore throat or dry mouth, mood swings or irritability, daytime fatigue or sleepiness, waking up gasping, headaches upon waking up in the morning, forgetfulness and night-time grinding of teeth.
A dental approach to combatting Sleep Apnea-
Various options are available namely; CPAP machines or mouth surgery. Also, the construction of a specialized dental appliance is a viable choice to treat sleep apnea. The device is referred to as a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), especially designed to increase the airway while you are sleeping.
Mandibular advancement devices are the most common type of dental sleep appliance available for the treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Also, they are sometimes called oral appliances, or dental sleep devices. Mandibular Advancement Devices open the airway by moving the mandible (the lower jaw) forward. As the jaw is moved forward, the collapsible part of your airway is held open by the forward movement of the tongue and other airway muscles. Mandibular Advancement Devices improve the strength and rigidity of the airway by increasing the muscle activity of the tongue and other muscles of the airway.
Anti-sleep apnea and snoring mouthpieces are a great answer for those who want an inexpensive, yet effective way to cure obstructive sleep apnea. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, see a medical and dental professional and have a sleep test. A timely diagnosis can be life changing and add value to your physical and emotional well-being.
Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected]