What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which your ability to breath is compromised while you sleep. Individuals who suffer from the disorder frequently stop and start breathing while trying to achieve a state of deep relaxation. The two most common forms of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Both forms can potentially cause a patient to develop heart problems and serious health issues, due to oxygen deprivation and stresses placed on the heart. At our dental practice, Dr. van Zyl can help patients manage their sleep apnea by using a custom-crafted oral appliance.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep disorder. It occurs when the throat muscles or tongue collapse when you relax, cutting off your ability to breathe freely. Often, with this form of sleep apnea, your airway becomes blocked, restricting your blood flow, and blocking oxygen from flowing to your heart and brain. Once the obstruction occurs, your brain will transmit a signal to your body, waking you up abruptly. Upon awakening, you may gasp for air or make a sudden snorting or loud choking noise.
Central Sleep Apnea- Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your muscles. The signal failure restricts blood and oxygen flow and will cause an individual to awaken suddenly feeling short of breath, gasping for hair, snorting loudly, or making a choking sound.
Obstruction to your airways due to sleep apnea can occur dozens of times within a short period, which ultimately hinders your ability to achieve quality sleep. This lack of rest can have a real impact on your whole body health, as well as your energy.
Developing Sleep Apnea
Individuals who have a family history of sleep disorders are more prone to developing sleep apnea than individuals who do not. You may be at risk for developing sleep apnea, or currently suffer from sleep apnea, if you:
- Snore loudly
- Always feel exhausted
- Are over the age of 65
- Are male
- Suffer from a medical condition, heart disorder, or have high blood pressure
- Smoke regularly or use tobacco products
- Drink alcohol
- Use sedatives
- Are obese
- Are abnormally underweight
- Sit for extended periods of time throughout the day
- Have a slender airway
If you begin to experience symptoms of sleep apnea, it is important to consult with Dr. van Zyl so your condition can be examined and diagnosed before the effects take a toll on your overall health. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause severe damage to your heart and you may develop other serious health problems like diabetes, depression, worsening of ADHA, or a stroke or heart attack.
Effectively Treating Sleep Apnea
Dr. van Zyl believes that in order for patients to achieve optimal overall health, they must first improve their oral health. For years, our team has been providing patients with the relief they need no matter the dental condition that they suffer from. Our goal is to configure a treatment plan that is tailored to the needs and specifications of your smile. If you suffer from sleep apnea, Dr. van Zyl can custom craft an oral appliance that moves the palate of your smile forward, engaging your oral muscles and increasing the muscle tone of your tongue. The appliance is not only comfortable to wear, but because it is removable, it can easily be cleaned and doesn't compromise your oral hygiene. Most importantly, it addresses the mechanisms that result in sleep apnea and allows you to rest in comfort.