Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which people stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times per night. With normal breathing, air will pass through the nose and the structures in the back of the throat. When a person is awake, muscles will hold the airway open. When asleep, the muscles relax but the airway stays open. With this disorder, the upper airway is blocked, causing oxygen levels to drop in the brain and blood.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

If you wake up in the morning exhausted and experience these symptoms, you may be suffering from sleep apnea:

  • Snoring
  • Morning headaches
  • Chronic daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue or irritableness
  • Impaired concentration

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

The blockage of your airway during sleep may be caused by:

  • Large tongue and tonsils
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Over-relaxed tongue and throat muscles
  • Aging

Types of Sleep Apnea

  • Obstructive – The most common form of sleep apnea. It is when the airway is obstructed due to when the soft tissue at the back of the throat closes.
  • Central – This is when the airway stays open, but the brain does not send signals to the muscles involved in breathing
  • Mixed – This is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. A common warning sign is snoring.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea may be treated with some lifestyle changes such as weight loss, decreasing alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking. Custom mouthpieces and nasal-training devices are commonly used. Other treatments include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – This is a machine that fits over the mouth and nose. The machine blows air in the throat and the pressure of the air keeps the airway open while asleep.
  • Surgery – The surgery involves repositioning the structure of the mouth and facial bones. The surgeon will eliminate the tissue that collapses during sleep.

The type of treatment depends on the severity of sleep apnea. Dentists that are trained in oral appliance therapy will determine which appliance is best for the patient.

Complications From Sleep Apnea

Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause headaches, daytime fatigue, and memory problems. More serious cases can contribute to:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Irregular Heartbeats
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about sleep apnea and treatment options, please contact Royal Dental. Call us at 713-330-7700 to schedule a consultation. Our practice serves Houston, Sugar Land, and surrounding areas in Texas.