Sleep apnea is a serious but common disorder where your breathing is interrupted when you sleep. When you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your airway becomes blocked because the soft tissue at the back of your throat temporarily collapses during sleep. Sleep apnea prevents your brain from getting enough oxygen, which can lead to very serious health problems.
Effect of Sleep Apnea on General Health
Sleep Apnea can have a negative effect on your general health and increase your risk of many major diseases. Sleep apnea reduces blood oxygen levels, which causes a raised heart rate and increased blood pressure. Sleep apnea is a high risk factor for hypertension, especially in older people. As many as half of all individuals with sleep apnea also have hypertension. Dental appliances that help control sleep apnea can therefore help reduce the risk of hypertension.
Sleep apnea is also a risk factor for heart attacks and chest pain. Middle-age men are a particularly high risk category. Sleep apnea can increase your chances of stroke and delay your recovery following a stroke. People with sleep apnea usually have higher blood sugar levels, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. Dental appliances are part of a treatment plan for sleep apnea and can improve blood sugar levels.
Clearly, sleep apnea is associated with many very serious chronic medical conditions, including premature death. If you have sleep apnea, speak with your doctor and dentist immediately for treatment options that could save your life.
Sleep apnea can be treated with two kinds of dental appliances, called mandibular advancing devices (MAD) and tongue retaining devices (TRD). These devices can be fitted by your Ottawa dentist to help treat sleep apnea:
Mandibular Advancing Device
This device fits over your lower and upper teeth to move your lower jaw (mandible) forward. This movement brings your tongue and soft throat tissues forward, which opens up your airway and allows you to breathe normally during the night. Additionally, your pharyngeal muscles usually relax during REM sleep, but the device will keep them stimulated.
Mandibular Advancing Devices come in several different designs. Some of them are adjustable, but others need to be brought back to the dentist for alterations. Speak with your Ottawa dentist to find out which MAD design is most suitable to your particular condition, jaw strength, and oral health.
Your dentist will have to determine if your jawbone and teeth in good enough condition for this device to be used. For this device to be most effective, you need a healthy and strong jaw joint, healthy teeth, and healthy gums.
Schedule an appointment with your Ottawa dentist to find out if a dental appliance is the right solution for your sleep apnea condition.