Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which breathing ceases for several seconds, multiple times during the course of a night’s sleep. There are two primary types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. A third, mixed, is a combination of the two primary types, but is not nearly as common. Dr. LeSueur, Dr. Glenn LeSueur, and Dr. Dodaro offer noninvasive sleep apnea treatments for the obstructive form of this potentially deadly condition.
Snoring is the most common symptom of both central and obstructive sleep apnea. Periods of breath cessation followed by choking or gasping are also very common. Additional symptoms to be aware of include:
- Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Frequent morning headaches
- Excessive daytime fatigue
It is best to bring these symptoms to the attention of your physician. Many tests can be used to determine if you are suffering from sleep apnea, and swift diagnosis can help prevent serious problems further down the road.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea occurs when signals between the brain and respiratory system are interrupted. This type of sleep apnea is commonly associated with other medical conditions such as heart failure and stroke, though it may also be drug induced or related to high altitude.
Because central sleep apnea is caused by the nervous system, treating it requires more complex therapy, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, commonly called OSA, is the most common type of this disorder. OSA occurs when airways become obstructed by soft tissue or over-relaxation of the throat muscles. Risk factors for OSA include obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and narcotics. However, this condition may also be linked to sex, age, and genetic predisposition.
Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Treating OSA requires keeping airways open during sleep – something that can often be accomplished with noninvasive treatments such as oral appliances worn while sleeping. These devices are customized to fit comfortably in the mouth and work to keep the tongue and palate optimally positioned for unobstructed airflow. Mesa sleep apnea dentist Scott LeSueur is prepared to work with you and your physician to help determine if a comfortable oral appliance would be better suited to treat your condition and restore a restful night’s sleep.
Dr. Lesueur offers SomnoDent, a custom-made oral appliance that increases upper airway volume during sleep. SomnoDent works by gently sloping the jaw forward and holding the tongue and other soft tissue in place, thereby allowing proper airflow to continue unobstructed.
Independent studies have shown SomnoDent to provide 91 percent treatment efficacy and 96 percent acceptance in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Our sleep apnea dentist believes these oral appliances offer an ideal alternative to more invasive and often uncomfortable CPAP machines.
Because the comfort and satisfaction of our patients are top priorities, we offer simple take-home sleep study machines to follow up on the improvement of sleep quality.
Risk Factors For Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is more common in men who are over the age of 60 and have a family history of the disorder. However, women see an increased risk following menopause. Physical factors including having a thicker neck circumference or a naturally narrow airway also increase your risks for sleep apnea.
While there is nothing that can be done about genetic risk factors for sleep apnea, many of the things that increase risks for this condition can be controlled. This includes things such as:
- Being overweight
- Using alcohol or sedatives
If you are increasing your risks through behavioral choices, lifestyle changes may be necessary to effectively treat your condition.
Combined Treatment Approach
If lifestyle factors are contributing to your sleep apnea, making small changes can have a profound impact. If you smoke, quitting is always in your best interest. Not only does smoking increase your risk for sleep apnea, it increases risks for oral cancer and a host of deadly systemic diseases. Quitting may be hard, but it is well worth the effort.
Taking small steps such as walking after dinner and eating well-balanced, healthy meals can also help improve the effectiveness of sleep apnea treatments. There are now also several appliances that can significantly reduce or prevent obstructive sleep apnea and its damaging effects.