If you wake up tired or with a headache every day—or are a known snorer—you could be experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when you stop breathing for short periods while asleep. Your body eventually jolts you awake so that you can start breathing normally again. You may or may not remember these periods of being awake before you go back to sleep.
These episodes can happen only few times a night or hundreds. Sleep apnea hugely affects your overall health, but fortunately, your dentist can help treat the problem. Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore sleep apnea and what your dentist can do about it.
Sleep Apnea Increases Risk for Chronic Disease
Sleep apnea is a dangerous, life-threatening condition. This is because your body is being deprived of necessary oxygen during the periods that you can’t breathe. Among its many health effects, sleep apnea can:
Put you at higher risk for high blood pressure
Increase your risk for heart problems including heart attacks and stroke
Raise your risk for depression and mood swings
Increase your risk for diabetes
Since sleep apnea deprives the brain of oxygen, it can also impact your cognitive skills and ability to remain awake throughout the day. This increases your risk of being involved in an accident and your overall risk of death.
Not Getting Enough Sleep Impacts Your Entire Body
In addition to increasing your risk for serious health problems, sleep apnea also impacts your day-to-day life. This condition can cause weight gain, asthma, and acid reflux. Sleep apnea has also been found to be responsible for weakening the immune system, therefore making your body more susceptible to illness.
When it comes to cognitive performance, sleep apnea greatly impacts memory. It could lead to memory loss much earlier in life. When your body isn’t able to get a deep, restful sleep, it isn’t able to store and catalogue information as well as it might have if you’d not been woken up repeatedly.
Your Dentist Can Provide a Simple Solution
The good news about sleep apnea is that it usually has a simple solution, especially if you have the most common type, which is obstructive sleep apnea. During obstructive sleep apnea, your airway is suppressed by one or a combination of several different factors, including muscles that relax too much, being overweight, or the structure of your head and neck. Regardless of what’s causing your obstructive sleep apnea, you can combine oral sleep appliances with the necessary lifestyle changes your doctor recommends for treatment.
An oral sleep appliance is a custom-made, small device that fits easily in your mouth to keep your airway open while you’re sleeping. Patients usually find it much easier to wear than the traditional sleep apnea breathing mask. The best part is that it can alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms!
If you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, don’t ignore what could be a life-threatening condition. Your dentist can talk with you about your symptoms and refer you to a sleep specialist for diagnosis. You can continue treatment at your dentist office to start feeling good again!