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Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Just like eating healthy and regular exercise are important for our overall health, sleeping and getting a good night’s sleep also impacts our healthy and daily lives.
Not only does falling into your wondrous bed after a long day’s work feel phenomenal, but sleeping also helps you look, feel and perform to your highest potential. Conversely, sleeping can also be hazardous to your overall well-being; that is, if you suffer from problems while you sleep. One of the most common sleeping problems is obstructive sleep apnea.
What is obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”)? Well, OSA is a sleeping problem that causes people to stop breathing while they sleep, hundreds of times per night, from a few seconds to over a minute. This chronic condition that affects roughly 25 million adults in the U.S. occurs when your muscles relax just a bit too much while you sleep, causing the soft tissue to buckle and create a blockage in the airway. Naturally, this causes the affected person to briefly awaken several times throughout the night as their oxygen levels are decreased by the blockage, often resulting in an unsettling night’s sleep.
Common symptoms of OSA to look out for include snoring, gasping, or choking sounds while you sleep. OSA is more common among men, however it can happen with women as well, especially during or after menopause. More risk factors for developing OSA are excess body weight, misaligned jaw, or a narrow airway.
In order to know for sure if you have OSA, make a visit to your doctor. A sleep specialist especially will be able to provide you with a comprehensive sleep evaluation, which may involve an overnight sleep study at a designated center or an at-home sleep apnea test. Once the evaluation is completed, the doctor will analyze the data from your sleep apnea study to make a diagnosis.
Treating OSA is very important to your overall health because, when left untreated, it can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which heightens dangers in the workplace and on the road;
headaches in the morning; memory loss; and other serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and chronic acid reflux. In severe untreated cases,
OSA can also increase your risk of death. With that said, let’s go over some treatment options. Your doctor will provide you with some options to treat your OSA and regain your quality night’s sleep.
The options include the following:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which involves wearing a face mask connected to a constantly running machine;
- Oral appliance therapy, which includes wearing a mouthguard that fits like a sports mouthguard or an orthodontic retainer while you sleep that promotes an open, unobstructed airway; and/or
- Surgery, which includes a variety of procedures, depending on your own personal health needs.
The most popular treatment is number two, oral appliance therapy, or a sleep time mouthguard. Many patients have said that the mouthguard is more comfortable to wear than the CPAP mask, as well as quieter, easier to take with you, and easier to care for. If you and your doctors decide that this is the right choice for you, your doctor will write a prescription to get you fit for a custom mouthguard, bring that to Landmark Smile and our dentist will provide the therapy needed to get you fitted for the guard.
So, if you think you might be suffering from OSA, or you’ve already been diagnosed, rest easier knowing that you are far from being alone. We here at Landmark Smiles are here to help! There are treatment options available to ensure you get your sound night’s sleep back and are able to look, feel and perform at your best!