Sleep Apnea

Generally speaking, dentists specialize in treating problems in the mouth. You have probably thought about visiting a dentist specifically when you face problems with your teeth and gums. However, dentists deal with far more than just tooth-related issues. Dr. Marc Samuels also treats problems related to the jawbone, facial structure and sleep habits.

One such sleep-related problem is sleep apnea, a health issue that most people often don’t associate with dentistry. Dentists have their unique skill set and a very effective tool with which they can alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. To explore these options, you can always contact Lighthouse Dental Care by calling (203) 378-1566 or by filling out this form.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder characterized by an interruption in a patient’s breathing patterns during sleep. As you can imagine, such a disorder is very serious and, unfortunately, often overlooked. Patients with sleep apnea can repeatedly stop breathing in their sleep, disturbing the oxygen flow to the brain and opening the way for a number of side effects to manifest.

Why does this happen? The cause of sleep apnea can differ from  patient to patient, but medical professionals have outlined two general types of sleep apnea, which are:

-> Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. As the name explains, OSA is sleep apnea that occurs when there is a physical blockage in the airway. For example, such a blockage may form when the soft tissues in the back of the throat “collapse” during sleep and thus interrupt the flow of air to the lungs. In these cases, the patient’s breathing patterns will be affected, thus inducing sleep apnea.

-> Central Sleep Apnea: Central sleep apnea is far less common because its cause lies in the realm of the psychological instead of the physical. With central sleep apnea, the patient’s breathing isn’t disturbed because of something in the airway itself. Rather, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain itself fails to signal the muscles to breathe normally. As you can imagine, such a condition is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

What are some signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea may sound like a very obvious sleep disorder, but it can go untreated in many situations because it can be difficult to notice. This is because the most common symptoms of sleep apnea seem quite mundane. For example, these symptoms include:

o - Snoring (especially loud snoring),
o - Gasping in sleep,
o - Choking sounds made during sleep,
o - Suddenly awakenings that are accompanied by shortness of breath,
o - Sore throats and dry mouth (especially in the morning),
o - Morning headaches,Insomnia, and
o - Day drowsiness.

As you’ve probably realized by now, these symptoms are quite common. Everyone experiences them at some point in their lives. As a result, it can be difficult to pinpoint sleep apnea as the specific cause of the problem. If you do notice yourself or your sleeping partner awaking in the night because of breathing problems, you should see a medical professional to get a professional diagnosis. Even if sleep apnea isn’t the cause of the problems, something else may be, and a doctor’s evaluation can help you  recover more easily.

How can a dentist treat sleep apnea?

If you are wondering why a dentist would treat sleep apnea, there is a logical reason. Sleep apnea (especially central sleep apnea) appears to be a largely psychological problem. Dentists do not solely treat central sleep apnea,  they also have a  solution to  obstructive sleep apnea which can be effective at reducing the symptoms of the problem.

How do they do that?

Dentists treat sleep apnea by constructing a mouthguard that can be worn during sleep. The customized mouthguard is designed to modify the patient’s mouth during sleep, adjusting the throat to reduce any obstructions to the airway. Such an oral appliance can be extremely effective at preventing the main cause of sleep apnea, making it possible for the patient to sleep uninterrupted.

To explore mouthguards as a potential solution to sleep apnea or to learn more about the sleep disorder, you can always contact Dr. Marc Samuels. As a dentist, Dr. Samuels offers oral appliances of all kinds to his patients, and he is more than happy to discuss potential treatment options with you. Simply call our office at (203) 378-1566 or fill out this form to set up your diagnostic appointment today!