Sleep apnea is a disorder which interrupts the breathing process during sleep. It is a serious, life-threatening disorder requiring immediate remediation. Diagnoses of sleep apnea falls into three categories: obstructive, central, and mixed.

Diagnosing sleep apnea

Many of the symptoms are similar within the categories of sleep apnea.  Your dentist and doctor can help you obtain a diagnosis based on your signs and symptoms.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA occurs when any of your soft tissues block your airway. Typically, the tongue or uvula falls to the back of your throat during sleep.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

When the brain doesn’t register the signal to breathe, CSA is the cause.  Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and encephalitis are common causes for this type of sleep apnea.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

As the name states, mixed sleep apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

One or more of these issues may be a symptom of sleep apnea

  • Snoring loudly
  • Pauses in breathing while asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling short of breath upon waking
  • Headaches
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings

Who is at risk for sleep apnea?

Throughout life, anyone is at risk for sleep apnea. The following factors also pay a part:
  • Overweight
  • Small jaws
  • Nasal blockage
  • Age
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Oversized uvula and/or tonsils
  • Family history

What are the effects of sleep apnea?

When proper treatment is avoided, the effects of sleep apnea can cause severe medical conditions such as:
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Asphyxiation

How do I prevent sleep apnea?

A balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and a normal sleep schedule can reduce the risk of sleep apnea.  If the problem persists, the following solutions should be considered:

  • Refrain from drinking alcohol or taking sleep medications as these drugs can cause the tongue and uvula to relax, constricting your breathing pattern.  
  • Switch to a sleeping position that restricts your tongue or uvula so it won’t fall to the back of your throat.
  • Lose weight in order to reduce the added weight around your neck and face area.  

Is there a treatment for sleep apnea?

At DeBonis Family Dentistry we fully understand that our patients have unique needs. We work hard to ensure help is available for you to live the healthiest life.

Many methods can be used to help you sleep through the night. Some of our treatments include:

  • Tongue-stabilizing devices
  • Custom-designed mouth trays
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines

Come in for a consultation if your life is interrupted by sleep apnea.  We’ll work diligently to find a treatment perfect for your situation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our staff at (412) 761-9594.