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What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a common sleep 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 that adults suffer from:
Central sleep apnea – caused by miscommunication between the brain and breathing muscles
Obstructive sleep apnea – caused by airway blockage from soft tissue and other factors
Sleep apnea symptoms
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 a sore throat
- Frequent morning headaches
- Excessive daytime fatigue
It is best to bring these symptoms to the attention of your physician. Patients can take make tests to determine if they are suffering from sleep apnea, and swift diagnosis can help prevent serious problems further down the road.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two primary types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. A third, mixed sleep apnea, is a combination of the two primary types but is not nearly as common. Dr. Scott LeSueur and Dr. Charles Dodaro offer non-invasive sleep apnea treatments for the obstructive form of this potentially deadly condition.
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 stems from the nervous system, treating it requires more complex therapy.
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 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. During your obstructive sleep apnea consultation at our Mesa, Arizona office we can help you determine if this particular treatment option is best for your needs.
Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive, which occurs when airways become blocked, preventing proper airflow. This condition 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 patients cannot change their genetic risk factors for sleep apnea, they can control many of the things that increase risks for this condition. 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.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
Our Mesa sleep apnea dentists have found the oral device SomnoDent to be very effective in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. This device is custom-made to fit comfortably in your mouth and is capable of keeping both muscles and soft tissue in place during sleep to help ensure optimal airflow. Independent studies have found SomnoDent to provide 91% treatment efficacy and it is well-tolerated by 96% of obstructive sleep apnea patients. Alone, however, it may not be fully effective at treating all cases.
Nearly all of the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea are lifestyle choices. As such, treatment can either be aided or obstructed by the choices you continue to make. Depending on your lifestyle, proper treatment of this disorder may require additional steps like:
- No longer smoking
- Not using sedatives
- Not drinking alcohol
Additional steps that patients may need to take to fully restore a healthy night’s sleep include:
- Weight loss
- At least three hours of exercise weekly
- A healthy diet
During your treatment consultation, we can discuss these methods in greater detail to help ensure all steps are being taken to protect your health and happiness through targeted obstructive sleep apnea treatments.
Schedule a consultation
If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, please contact Scott LeSueur, DDS & Charles Dodaro, DDS online or by calling our Mesa office at (480) 834-6991 to schedule a treatment consultation today.