Do you wake abruptly in the night, gasping for breath? Do you feel tired even after a full night’s rest? Do you wake with a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat? Do you snore loudly? If so, you may have sleep apnea. The most common type of this condition, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused when the throat muscles relax and collapse soft tissues which block the airway. Your breathing is repeatedly interrupted during the night, which can cause other serious health problems. Speak with your dentist if you think you have sleep apnea and they will determine the best treatment option.
- Adjust how you sleep: This is the simplest solution, but can be very effective. Sleep on your side instead of your back in order to prevent the collapsed tissue at the back of your throat from blocking the airway.
- Lose Weight: Being overweight is a common risk factor for sleep apnea. The Cleveland Clinic states that “even a 10 percent weight loss can reduce the number of apneic events for most patients.”
- Quit Smoking: Smokers are three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than non-smokers because it increases fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway. In many cases, quitting smoking gets rid of sleep apnea.
- Use An Oral Appliance: Your dentist may recommend that you use an oral appliance while you sleep. Oral appliances hold the jaw in a way that will prevent the collapse of the airway. This method is most successful in mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.
- Use A CPAP: Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) is a device that can treat sleep apnea. It supplies air and uses pressure to keep the airway open. Similar devices such as BPAP or EPAP may also be recommended.
- Have Surgery: If all other treatment options fail, then surgery may be necessary to treat sleep apnea. This surgery can be performed on the upper airway, nose, or mouth.