What Is Sleep Apnea?
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea can be defined as a sleep disorder, and it occurs when the soft tissues in the throat relax which blocks airflow through the throat. When there is a disruption in airflow, the oxygen levels in the body drop, and therefore the brain and other major organs are not receiving the proper amount of oxygen needed to function.
If the oxygen in the body drops low enough, patients may partially wake up which may cause them to gasp for air throughout the night. Repeated cycles of decreased oxygen can increase the risk of experienced major cardiovascular events. Patients with sleep apnea may also experience regular morning headaches and daytime sleepiness.
What Are The Signs of Sleep Apnea?
The signs of sleep apnea can vary from patient to patient. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, be sure to contact your physician or our Herndon dental office. If you are snoring without sleep apnea or snoring a result of sleep apnea, your doctor can work with you to find the treatment you need.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
- Morning headaches
- Daytime sleepiness
- Memory loss
- Mood changes or irritability
- Loud snoring during sleep
- Waking up gasping for air
Am I At Risk For Sleep Apnea?
Anyone can develop sleep apnea; however, certain factors may put you at a higher risk for sleep apnea. If you have one or more of the following conditions, you may be at an increased risk for sleep apnea.
- Having excess body weight (overweight)
- A large neck circumference
- Narrowed airway
- Misaligned jaw
- High blood pressure
- A family history of sleep apnea
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
To determine if you have sleep apnea, you will need to undergo diagnostic testing. Testing will include a complete sleep evaluation, which may involve an overnight sleep study or an at-home sleep study. During your sleep study, a trained sleep specialist will monitor factors like your heart rate, oxygen levels, and symptoms upon waking up.
There are several treatment options available for sleep apnea. One of the most common ways to treat sleep apnea is with the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The CPAP machine is a portable device that produces pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask. As an alternative to the CPAP machine, we may recommend oral appliance therapy.
Oral appliance therapy can address sleep-disordered breathing, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea. Many patients opt for oral appliance therapy because it is compact, comfortable, and easy to wear. An oral sleep appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep. Your oral sleep appliance is custom designed to fit comfortably and securely in your mouth. It helps prevent the airway from collapsing while supporting the jaw while you sleep.
Dr. Jefferies may work in coordination with your physician to build the most effective treatment plan for you.
Treat Sleep Apnea With Your Dentist
If you are having issues with your CPAP treatment or are searching for an alternative treatment for sleep apnea, visit our Herndon, VA dentist office. Dr. Jefferies is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and offers advanced treatment for patients with sleep apnea. If you would like to explore your treatment options, call (703) 570-1152 or request an appointment online.
Before your visit, we recommend completing the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Questionnaire to help determine your risk level and identify any sleep related issues.