A Dental Approach To Sleep Apnea Treatment

  • March 21, 2016

Quality sleep is important for everyone.

Yet, getting quality sleep is harder for some people than it is for others.

People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea may not reach the deepest levels of sleep. People who share a bed with someone with sleep apnea can have trouble sleeping, too.

Help is available. And that help is closer than you might think.

Robert A. Eckelson, D.D.S., P.A., offers snoring solutions at our orthodontist office in Boca Raton.

If you are concerned that you aren’t getting the healthy sleep that you need, then you should give us a call.

What Is Healthy Sleep?

Sleep is an essential part of staying healthy. It’s the time when our bodies recuperate from the previous day’s activities. At least, that is what should happen when we are asleep.

The American Sleep Apnea Association describes the stages of healthy sleep on its website. Most people will go through multiple cycles of each while they are asleep.

▶︎ Non-REM Stage 1 — This is when you are just starting to fall asleep. It can take several minutes to move on from this stage.

▶︎ Non-REM Stage 2 — This is when your body is moving into a deeper stage of sleep. Your body temperature lowers, and your heart rate will slow down. This is preparing you for the next stage of the cycle.

▶︎ Non-REM Stage 3 — This is one of the deep stages of the sleep cycle. It can be difficult to wake up someone in this stage. This stage is necessary for your body’s recovery.

▶︎ REM Stage 4 — This is when rapid eye movement occurs. Like non-REM Stage 3, this is one of the deepest stages of sleep. This is the time when we dream.

If you or someone you know has sleep apnea, then you may not reach the deeper stages of sleep. This can explain why you can wake up in the morning still feeling tired.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

The word apnea comes from a Greek word that means “without breath.” Someone with sleep apnea may stop breathing multiple times throughout the night for up to 30 seconds at a time.

The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs because your airways are blocked while you are asleep.

Often this is because the muscles around your airways become relaxed. This can cause the soft tissues in your throat to cut off your airway partially or completely. This also produces the loud, constant snoring that is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea.

There are two other forms of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs because of a communication problem between your brain and the muscles that control your breathing. Mixed sleep apnea occurs when a person has elements of both other types of sleep apnea.

You may be wondering how your body copes with the fact that you stop breathing when you are asleep. It wakes you up.

Now, this is different than when you wake up in the morning to start your day. These momentary awakenings often are so brief that you don’t remember them.

During those moments, you take a few breaths. Then, you start to fall asleep again.

To give you an idea how often this can occur, someone with moderate sleep apnea may stop breathing 15 to 29 times per hour.

This is why you may not be getting deep, healthy sleep. Meanwhile, your snoring could be keeping someone else from getting healthy sleep, too.

How To Treat Sleep Apnea

The most common treatment is a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure.

CPAP users wear a mask while they sleep. This mask pushes air into their airways to keep them open. This allows the user to continue breathing throughout the night.

For people with severe sleep apnea, this may be the only solution.

For people with mild or moderate sleep apnea, we may be able to provide a different treatment.

Some people can’t or won’t use a CPAP. If you are one of those people, we may be able to make a mouthpiece for you to wear at night.

A custom-made oral appliance will adjust the position your jaw. This change can keep your airways open so you continue breathing.

Once you become accustomed to wearing it, you may be surprised by how refreshed you can feel after a good night of healthy sleep.

Start Sleeping Better

If you believe that you or your partner may have sleep apnea, schedule an appointment at the orthodontist office of Robert A. Eckelson, D.D.S., P.A., in Boca Raton.

You can do this by filling out our online form or by calling 561-235-3100.

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