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Sleep Apnea

Recognizing sleep apnea and finding the treatments that work - tips from your Asheville dentist

Sleep apnea has become a real problem for people all around the world. A challenging sleep disorder, the most common form of sleep apnea is the obstructive type, in which airflow becomes blocked by some sort of physical appendage. This could be a deviated septum or excess pockets of fat that put pressure on the airway when relaxed. The most important aspect is not exactly what causes sleep apnea, but recognizing and determining which treatments will combat the disorder before serious health complications occur. In our Asheville practice, we have treated sleep apnea successfully for many years.

Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware of the condition. This is because sleep apnea often presents as snoring, and snoring is not typically viewed as a life-threatening sleep disorder. There is one big difference between snoring and sleep apnea, in the latter, breathing actually stops. A person who has sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times a night, but never fully wake up to realize that he or she is having difficulty.

A person with sleep apnea may experience:
  • Daytime sleepiness, regardless of how much time is spent sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks, or remembering details
  • Moodiness, irritability, or depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased productivity
Discovering and treating sleep apnea means that health is guarded against potentially serious health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke. Once a diagnosis has been made, your physician can investigate what the underlying cause for sleep apnea may be. When weight is a factor, reaching a healthier weight may relieve the pressure on the airway during sleep and thus end sleep apnea episodes.

While dealing with the underlying cause of sleep apnea, however, a few treatments can be used to restore airflow during sleep. Medical practitioners have long prescribed the nightly use of the CPAP machine for sleep apnea patients. This machine delivers constant air pressure to the lungs via a nasal cannula worn as a mask that covers the nose. The problem with this approach is that it can be uncomfortable, leading to the patient removing the mask during the night.

In the dental field, sleep apnea is treated with a custom-made intra-oral appliance that is worn during sleep. This device is far more comfortable than the CPAP machine, as is shown by the high instance of patient compliance.

If you, or a loved one, are experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, contact us for more information on diagnosis and treatment.

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