When someone experiences either one or several pauses in breathing or experiences shallow breaths during sleep this is a common disorder that is known as sleep apnea. These pauses in breathing may actually happen up to 30 times or even more each hour within the duration of the sleep. After these episodes happen, regular breathing will resume after a loud choking or snorting sound.
There are two types of sleep apnea that may happen to a person, as stated by the American Dental Association and below are these two:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Also known as OSA, this type of sleep apnea happens when temporary obstructions in the airways occur during sleep. These obstructions can either be in your throat or tongue and are made up of fatty tissues. Once this happens, the brain will then send signals to wake up partially from the deep sleep so the person resumes normal breathing.
- Central Sleep Apnea – When your brain does not properly send signals to your muscles that control your breathing, central sleep apnea happens. When this happens, the person’s breathing will stop and start up repeatedly while asleep. In this case, the person cannot breathe properly due to blockage in the upper airway. This can also happen when the person suffers from stroke or heart failure.
Severity of Sleep Apnea
There are 3 severities of sleep apnea. These are mild apnea, moderate and severe apneal. The severity of apnea depends on the number of apnea episodes that actually occur in a span of one hour.
- Mild Apnea– 5 to 14 episodes of apnea happens per hour.
- Moderate Apnea– 15 to 30 episodes of apnea happens per hour.
- Severe Apnea– Over 30 episodes of apnea happens per hour.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Since there are 3 severities or levels of apnea, then each level will have its separate type of treatment.
For mild apnea, it can be improved through lifestyle change. For example, weight loss, minimizing alcohol intake or quitting smoking.
In terms of obstructive apnea, this can be improved through treatments provided by the doctors.
If you want more information on how to deal with sleep apnea, then you can also inquire about this to your dental experts.
How Can a Dentist Help in Sleep Apnea?
You might be wondering, what would a dentist do in terms of dealing with sleep apnea. To some it might seem unlikely but in reality there’s a lot that a dentist can do to help deal and manage this.
Through modern technology, dentists have shared sleep apnea oral devices to patients that helps a lot in dealing with sleep apnea. These oral devices do not require surgery and does not lead to any pain when being given to patients.
So what does these devices do?
While the person is asleep, the custom-fit oral device will shift the jaws slightly forward which will then keep the airway clear and keep apneas from happening.
If a person is experiencing a more severe type of apnea then dental devices might not work, instead, breathing devices may already be necessary. One example of these breathing devices is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) which is being used and given to adults. CPAP machine makes use of a mask that is put on top of the mouth as well as the nose and this machine will slowly blow air into the throat to keep the airways open.