Sleep Apnea can happen to anyone, and affects over 20 million adults in the United States. In fact, some people are not even aware that they have it. There are two types of Sleep Apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and Central Sleep Apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes people to stop breathing while sleeping and can last for at least 10 seconds as the muscles in the back of your throat literally prevent your airways from opening. Your Dentist will tell you that Central Sleep Apnea has the same symptoms as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but is less common. Central Sleep Apnea occurs when your brain does not control your breathing while you are sleeping. Obstructive Sleep Apnea, also known as OSA can happen to men and women in all age groups, but there are certain factors that will increase the risk of OSA. Some of these could include large tonsils, small airways at the back of your throat, a large uvula, or a large tongue. Other factors include small jaws, large necks, and obesity. People who drink or smoke are also at risk. If you suffer from OSA, you probably snore, as this is one of the biggest indicators. Men and women who have Sleep Apnea will find themselves sleeping while on the phone, at work, or even behind the wheel. If left untreated, Sleep Apnea could have devastating results for everyone concerned. Although a CPAP Machine, which is a breathing device, has been used for years, most patients find it an uncomfortable solution for Sleep Apnea, and although it helps open your air passageways, requires the patient to wear a mask that fits over your face. Not everyone can wear a mask when sleeping. Some find the CPAP so uncomfortable that they are unable to sleep, which is the reason for the CPAP Machine in the first place. Much has changed in the past few years, and these days there are alternatives for patients who find a CPAP machine intolerable. Your dentist can fit you with a dental appliance that will replace your cumbersome CPAP Machine. These oral appliances are custom-made and have been proven to help people sleep better at night. Along with sleeping better, the oral appliances can also help with the emotional and medical problems that go hand in hand with Sleep Apnea. Instead of forcing you to breathe, as a CPAP Machine does, a dental appliance will make you breathe easier as it allows your jaw to move forward gently and effectively. Custom-made dental appliances have had remarkable results and are extremely comfortable. Sleep is crucial for both your physical and mental health, and if you find yourself waking up gasping for air, you could be suffering from Obstructive or Central Sleep Apnea.
Dr. Michael Layton (DDS) is a dentist based in the South Surrey/White Rock area. With over 10 years of experience in the dental industry and a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington, Dr. Layton enjoys providing safe and easy dental solutions for every patient that walks through the doors of his practice – and reads his blog. You can follow him on Google+.