Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves the actual cessation of breathing throughout the night. These involuntary pauses in breathing can occur twenty to sixty or more times per hour. When this happens to you or your partner, it can be accompanied by gasping or choking sensations that awaken one or both of you.
When you think of sleep apnea treatment, you may immediately think of one of those cumbersome machines with a breathing tube and mask that makes you want to claim parentage to every Luke you can find. It’s a treatment your primary care physician may prescribe after a sleep apnea diagnosis. It’s probably not something you’d think to go to your dentist about – in fact, it may never occur to you to type sleep apnea dentist near me into a search bar. But if you have – congratulations – you’ve found the right place! At Davinci Smiles, we can help you with a small comfortable dental appliance that you wear at night!
There are three types of sleep apnea.
In Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the throat tissues and muscles relax and block air from flowing from your nose and mouth to your lungs. The tongue also falls back over the windpipe and acts as a plug stopping air flow. In this type of sleep apnea, the air stops flowing through the nose and mouth even though the abdominal muscles and diaphragm try to move air into the lungs. It looks like you are breathing but you are not.
In Central Sleep Apnea, the breathing centre (the medulla, which regulates breathing) becomes less efficient and you experience episodes when you stop breathing. Recent studies suggest that one of the reasons this occurs is lack of oxygen getting to the brain due to decreased blood flow. One reason for the lack of blood flow is that the blood vessels that run along the neck and up to the brain stem get constricted by stiff neck muscles which act like a tourniquet that stops vital blood flow. The reason for the stiffening of the muscles is the misalignment of the jaws and teeth – Neuromuscular Imbalance. In this type of sleep apnea, not only does the air not enter the lungs due to lack of breathing, but the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm also stop working.
Mixed or complex sleep apnea involves both obstructive and central causes for sleep apnea and are probably the most dangerous. This usually starts with mostly obstructive sleep apnea and some episodes of central sleep apnea. This then progresses to more episodes of central sleep apnea until eventually there will be mostly central sleep apnea and a few episodes of obstructive sleep apnea.
If you’re thinking, ‘oh it’s just a bit of snoring’ and your sleeping partner disagrees, you may want to know these facts:
- The CDC reports that up to 6,000 fatal crashes a year are caused by drowsy driving.
- Sleep apnea contributes to an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, weight gain, memory problems, or premature death.
- Alzheimer’s Disease and early onset dementia are co-morbidities with sleep apnea.
Do you experience...
- disturbed sleep
- early morning headache
- loud snoring
- cessation of breathing while sleeping
- difficulty concentrating
- depression or irritability
- learning and memory difficulties
- falling asleep while at work, on the phone, or while driving?
A custom-fitted dental appliance is…
- convenient – we can fabricate one for you after only one visit
- small and light – so it’s comfortable while you sleep
- portable – the appliance fits in your pocket
- non-surgical – there’s no risk or downtime associated with any surgery.
Let us work with you and your healthcare team to keep you happy and healthy – and both you and your partner sleeping soundly at night.
Yours in dental – and overall – health,
Dr. Kherani, General Dentist, Edmonton