While it can be quite disruptive to your bed partner, snoring is common. However, you shouldn’t just ignore your snoring habit, especially if you have been told you snore loudly or it occurs with episodes of gasping for air throughout the night. This can indicate sleep apnea, a sleep condition that is far more dangerous to your health than simple or primary snoring.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep and the upper airway becomes blocked. This sleep condition may cause patients to snore but also stop breathing for seconds or even minutes at a time. When oxygen levels drop to a certain low point because of lack of air, the brain triggers you to wake up and gasp for air. Those with sleep apnea may do this hundreds of times a night without even realizing. Unfortunately, sleep apnea doesn’t go unscathed during the day.
Daytime Problems Due to Nighttime Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a medical condition that can interfere with your quality of life and overall health if not treated properly. In fact, there are several serious daytime consequences from the compromised quality of sleep you get with sleep apnea, including:
- Cognitive problems
- Drowsy driving
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mood problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Weight gain/obesity
If you are a smoker, overweight, have large tonsils, suffer from endocrine or neuromuscular disorders or have heart or kidney failure, you are more at risk for sleep apnea.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, it is often treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (or C-PAP) device that you can wear during sleep. However, C-PAP machines can be uncomfortable and cumbersome. Not all patients can tolerate this form of treatment. Fortunatley, a sleep apnea dentist can offer an alternative therapy to help you (and your partner) get a healthy night’s sleep. At Peninsula Dentistry, we proudly offer both oral appliance therapy and laser therapy as alternatives to traditional C-PAP treatment. Call our Charleston dental clinic today to learn more!