Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatment

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes interrupted breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that affects over 18 million Americans. This occurs when the upper airway is blocked during sleep, causing breathing to repeatedly start and stop throughout the night. Repeated oxygen deprivation can result in a number of serious health concerns like high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, or diabetes. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons warns that 90% of patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed. This is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and get treatment at the earliest. 

Snoring And Sleep Apnea

A common concern with sleep apnea is the loud snoring that it produces. Although this may seem like the primary symptom, it’s typically not the only sign of sleep apnea. Because of this, some cases of OSA go undiagnosed until the patient is examined by a sleep specialist who may recommend an overnight sleep study for diagnosis. 

Snoring and sleep apnea are closely related conditions that involve loud breathing during sleep. Snoring occurs when your diaphragm relaxes and blocks the airway. This cuts off air from reaching the lungs, causing a person to snore loudly until they awaken. While it may seem harmless, it may be a sign of a much more serious problem known as obstructive sleep apnea. This condition involves a partial or complete blockage of the airway when the muscles relax and cut off oxygen flow. During an apnea episode, the body is unable to draw any oxygen, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. This can seriously harm the body over time if left untreated and cause health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, and even heart failure. 

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea And Snoring

Patients with sleep apnea experience multiple symptoms that can disrupt their sleep routine and quality of life. Some of the most common symptoms are daytime exhaustion, morning headaches, dry mouth, sore throats, hoarseness, and frequent waking throughout the night. Patients often suffer from these or other symptoms simultaneously, such as chronic congestion.

What Causes Sleep Apnea And Snoring?

There are multiple causes of sleep apnea and snoring. Some factors include:

  • Age – Most commonly occurs after age 40.
  • Weight – Being overweight or obese increases your risk.
  • Neck circumference – Having a larger neck can increase your risk.
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol – Both can interfere with normal breathing, which may cause sleep apnea or make it worse.
  • Nasal congestion – Having a stuffy nose can block your airways, which can make you snore or lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Structural abnormalities – Having a smaller-than-normal lower jaw can cause your tongue to rest against the back of your throat, which can block your air passages and lead to snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. Other structural issues that can increase your risk are a narrow airway or a deviated septum.
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids – These tissues in the back of the mouth can also block your air passages and make you snore.
  • Medication – Certain medications can affect your muscles and nerves that control normal breathing. This can cause you to stop breathing in your sleep and wake up suddenly to restart breathing again.
  • Medical conditions – Conditions like heart or lung diseases, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression can all increase the risk of sleep apnea.
  • Genetics – If other members of your family have sleep apnea, there’s a chance you will too.
  • Gender – Men are more likely to have sleep apnea than women.

To learn more about the causes of sleep apnea, call your dentist to schedule a consultation today!

How Are Sleep Apnea And Snoring Treated?

Although there are several treatment options for sleep apnea, as a general rule, there are two main categories of treatment; those that act on the soft tissues and those that alter the airway’s positioning.

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) 

Patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea may require a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to help them breathe throughout the night without obstruction.

  • Oral Appliance Therapy

If a patient suffers from mild to moderate sleep apnea, a device called an oral appliance can be an effective treatment option. The oral appliance works similarly to an athletic mouthguard or retainer and helps to hold the tongue and soft palate forward during sleep to reduce obstruction of the airways. This therapy is a great option for patients who prefer to avoid invasive surgery.

  • Surgery

Severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea may require surgical intervention to treat the condition. Your dentist can help determine which procedure would be most beneficial for you and help to guide you through the process from start to finish. Some of these procedures include:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty – This is a common surgical procedure that involves the removal of the excess tissue in the throat area to help open the airway and reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty – Similar to UPPP, LAUP is the removal of excess tissue in the back of the mouth and/or the throat to open the airway and improve breathing while sleeping. This procedure can be performed using different laser techniques.

Restore your smile with Pooya Soltanzadeh, DDS, MS, FACP, and his team of dental experts at Anaheim Hills, CA. For more details, call Dentist Anaheim Hills at (714) 974-0949, book online, or visit us at 8101 E Kaiser Blvd Suite 120, Anaheim Hills, CA 92808.

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