Why You Shouldn't Procrastinate over Treating Sleep Apnea, and How Your Dentist Can Help

It’s estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 million Americans have a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but only one in five has a diagnosis. Without treatment, this condition can disrupt your life and your relationships. You might be surprised to learn that your dentist could be the right person to help.

At Esthetic Smiles in Oxnard, California, Dr. John Abajian provides sleep consultations and treatment for sleep apnea sufferers. You could change your life with a good night’s sleep!

The basics of sleep apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea, but by far the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. If you have OSA, you may not even know it — but your bedmate could tell you if they notice symptoms.

If you have OSA, the tissues at the back of your throat relax too much when you sleep. The opening of your throat closes as the tongue muscle relaxes, and everything “smooshes together,” shutting off your airway.

Contrary to myth, you won’t choke on your tongue, and you won’t suffocate. Your body has a built-in system that startles you when you stop breathing, because the brain can tell when it’s being deprived of oxygen.

The startle reflex isn’t large enough to wake you up. Your brain just sends out a “ping,” and you inhale sharply, the muscles in your throat contracting and your tongue lifting out of the way. Usually, you’ll make a snorting, gasping, or choking sound. Then a few minutes later, you relax, and it happens again. 

This can go on all night, happening as frequently as 30 times every hour, and the cumulative effect is that your body never gets the really deep sleep it needs. This can present multiple dangers to your health.  

This is the kind of sleep apnea a dentist can typically help you with. There are two other, less common, kinds of sleep apnea. In central sleep apnea, your brain forgets to send signals to your body telling it to breathe. You can also have mixed sleep apnea, which is central plus obstructive sleep apnea. These rarer conditions may need a specialist like a neurologist to correct.

Get checked for sleep apnea right away

If you have some or all of the following symptoms, don’t procrastinate. Get checked for sleep apnea.

Dangers of untreated OSA

If you have sleep apnea but don’t seek help, you increase your risk of developing serious medical conditions such as:

Sleep apnea treatment

Dr. Abajian can run tests to confirm if you have obstructive sleep apnea or another type of sleep apnea. Then he can recommend the best treatment, or refer you to a specialist, if necessary. In many cases, he can fabricate a simple oral appliance customized for your mouth. 

You wear the mouthguard at night, to position your jaw in such a way that your tongue and the roof of your mouth can’t meet. Your airway won’t close, and you can sleep peacefully.

Think you may have sleep apnea? Call our office for an appointment today. 

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