Sleep apnea occurs when your upper airway becomes blocked while you sleep, resulting in an interruption of airflow, which causes you to stop breathing. When this happens, you may react by snoring or choking loudly as you gasp for air. In most cases, you wake up as your brain and body experience oxygen deficiency.
People with severe sleep apnea may stop breathing a hundred or more times per night. If you experience mild to moderate sleep apnea, the incidents occur less frequently. Left untreated, any form of sleep apnea deprives your body of the productive sleep you need to maintain good health and avoid both acute illnesses and chronic medical conditions.
Having a sleep apnea diagnosis requires finding an effective treatment that allows you to get a safe and sound sleep. William M. Schneider, DDS, in Walnut Creek, California has over 20 years of experience helping sleep apnea patients find long-lasting treatment solutions for their symptoms. If your condition requires a sleep apnea appliance, Dr. Schneider helps encourage your compliance by manufacturing a device you can use easily and comfortably.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is categorized into three types:
1. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs most often. It results when the muscles in the back of your throat relax and collapse when you fall asleep, causing a blockage of the airway in your throat. It can also occur when your tongue fully blocks your airway. Obstructive sleep apnea causes loud snoring and pauses in breathing.
2. Central sleep apnea involves your central nervous system. It results when your brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles that control your breathing, heart rate, and swallowing. This condition can cause you to stop breathing completely while you’re asleep.
3. Complex sleep apnea, also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, describes a condition in which you have symptoms related to both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea requires immediate medical attention.
Having any type of sleep apnea for a period of at least four or five years can increase your risk of having a heart attack by 30%. Sleep apnea also can put you at a higher risk for many types of medical conditions, including the following:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- Cognitive and behavioral disorders
What types of dental devices can treat sleep apnea?
Dr. Schneider can provide several options to treat your sleep apnea. He determines the most appropriate treatment by assessing your overall health and specific sleep apnea symptoms.
If you have mild to moderate symptoms, Dr. Schneider may recommend using an individually fitted mouthpiece to keep your airway open while you sleep. Two types of sleep apnea mouthpieces provide effective relief from symptoms related to airway blockages.
2. A tongue retaining device is used less frequently. This device consists of a splint that holds the tongue in a forward position to keep the upper airway open.
Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, and losing weight, can also help reduce mild symptoms related to obstructive sleep apnea. Repositioning yourself to sleep on your side instead of your back also reduces the likelihood of your tongue blocking your airway.
What other treatment options can a dentist offer?
Dr. Schneider also supplies continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, the most common and effective treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea.
A CPAP device includes a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. Straps hold the mask securely in place, and a large tube, called a cannula, joins the mask to a motor that delivers a continuous supply of compressed air into your throat while you sleep.
Using a CPAP machine provides the following benefits:
- Keeps airways open while you sleep
- Reduces snoring
- Improves sleep quantity and quality
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relieves daytime drowsiness
Can you benefit from sleep apnea treatment?
You may have sleep apnea and benefit from an assessment by Dr. Schneider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Periods without breathing during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Learning and memory problems
Find out more about the options that Dr. Schneider can offer you for sleep apnea treatment. Book online or call our office at 925-935-2700 to arrange an appointment today.