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Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects millions of people, yet so many go undiagnosed and untreated, simply because they don’t know about the disorder. At Galleria of Smiles, we’re hoping to change that by educating as many people as possible about sleep apnea and the importance of getting treated.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is complex sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in a person’s breathing while they sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing hundreds of times a night during sleep. This can deprive the entire body, including the brain, of necessary oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, also known as OSA, is the more common type of sleep apnea. OSA occurs when the airway is blocked, usually because soft tissue in the back of the throat has collapsed.
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send a signal to the muscles to breathe. This is usually caused by instability in the respiratory control center.

Who Is Most At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

While sleep apnea can affect anyone, no matter their age, those who are at a higher risk for sleep apnea are:

  • Male
  • Over the age of 40
  • Overweight

Additionally, those at increased risk for sleep apnea have:

  • A neck that is 17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women
  • Large tonsils, a small jaw bone, or a large tongue
  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
  • Nasal obstructions caused by a deviated septum, sinus problems, or allergies

What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?

The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Loud snoring
  • Sleepiness or a lack of energy throughout the day
  • Waking up with a choking or gasping feeling
  • Drowsy driving
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness and mood changes
  • Insomnia

Because many symptoms of sleep apnea are more apparent while the person is sleeping, sleep apnea is often first recognized by a loved one, rather than the patient themselves. It may be helpful to ask your loved one if they have noticed any symptoms related to sleep apnea.

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Because untreated sleep apnea can lead to additional health issues, it’s important to have it treated as soon as soon as possible. Sleep apnea has the potential to increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

If you or your partner think you may have sleep apnea, call Galleria of Smiles as soon as possible to schedule a consultation. We can send you home with an ARES™ sleep device. This means we can test you for the disorder without having to send you to a lab to sleep overnight.

A sleep doctor can then look at your results from the test and let us know if you have sleep apnea. They can also inform us of whether you have obstructive or central sleep apnea, so we know what steps to take next to treat your symptoms.

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, we can provide an oral appliance to open your airway while you sleep. An oral appliance is a much quieter and more comfortable way to help you sleep when compared to a CPAP machine. At Galleria of Smiles, we offer four types of oral appliances:

  • DynaFlex

An adjustable oral appliance great for changing dental health needs.

  • Narval

An incredibly light oral appliance guaranteed to help you feel more comfortable while treating your sleep apnea symptoms.

  • Herbst

With a Herbst oral appliance, you can talk without having to remove your device.

  • SomnoDent

SomnoDent is incredibly durable which makes it a long-lasting option.

When you come to our office for a sleep apnea treatment, we can find out which device will work best for you.

Don’t Wait Another Day To Call

If you or your partner think you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to call our office to set up a consultation. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so give us the chance to take a look at your case and help to relieve your symptoms.

To schedule an appointment, call our Tulsa, OK dental office at (918) 999-0142. You can also contact us online to request an appointment.

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