Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. It is characterized by loud snoring and pauses in breathing while sleeping. People with sleep apnea often fail to get quality sleep at night, resulting in a variety of significant health problems.
There are a variety of treatments that can control the symptoms, but can you actually cure sleep apnea? Here’s what you need to know about sleep apnea cures and how your dentist can help.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, officially called obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when your airway becomes blocked while you are sleeping. When you lay down, especially on your back, the soft tissues of your mouth slide back toward your throat and your throat tissues relax and collapse, all of which obstruct your airway.
When your airway is partially blocked, the air moving over the tissues of your mouth and throat causes them to vibrate, which creates the sound of snoring. When your airway becomes completely blocked you will stop breathing until your brain registers the lack of oxygen and rouses you from sleep enough to change positions and resume breathing. This may occur hundreds of times in a single night, preventing you from reaching the deep sleep cycles that are required for adequate rest.
How Do You Know If You Have Sleep Apnea?
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring.
- Pauses in breathing while sleeping.
- Dry mouth.
- Waking up gasping for air.
- Headaches in the morning.
- Feeling tired or unrested.
- Lack of energy throughout the day.
- Dozing off easily during the day.
Treatments For Sleep Apnea Symptoms
There are two common treatments for sleep apnea symptoms:
- CPAP Machine. A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine consists of a mask you wear over your mouth and nose that is connected by a hose to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air to keep your airway open.
- Oral appliance. An oral appliance positions your jaw to prevent your tongue and the soft tissues of your mouth from sliding back to block your airway.
Cures For Sleep Apnea
The above listed treatments for sleep apnea only address the symptoms. They do not provide a long term cure. If you do not use your CPAP machine or wear your oral appliance, your symptoms will return immediately. There are some treatments for sleep apnea that may provide a long term cure. Such options include:
- Orthodontic treatment. In some cases orthodontic treatment can cure sleep apnea because it changes the position of your teeth and even the shape of your jaw so that your airway no longer becomes blocked when you sleep.
- Soft tissue surgery. Some patients can have their sleep apnea cured by having surgery on the soft tissues of their throat. Having your tonsils and/or adenoids removed can help, as well as removal of excess tissue in the throat area.
- Jaw surgery. Having surgery to reshape or reposition your jaw can cure sleep apnea in some cases.
Which Option is Best For Me?
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea that are severe and interfere with your quality of life, it is in your best interest to seek treatment. Talk to your dentist about your symptoms to receive an official diagnosis and recommendations for the best course of treatment.
- Renan Williams, DDS provides sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment for patients who are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea and want to get better quality sleep at night. Getting treatment for your sleep apnea can improve your overall health and wellness in a variety of ways, even reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.