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Sleep Apnea and Airway Issues

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that causes breathing problems at night. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. Obstructed breathing during sleep can be caused by collapsing soft tissues in the throat. When these tissues collapse, they block the airway. In addition, the reduced flow of oxygen can cause the brain to signal the body to wake up.

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How Common Is Sleep Apnea? 

One in 10 adults has sleep apnea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, between 40 and 70 percent of men with sleep apnea also have erectile dysfunction. Sleep apnea even affects children. It is estimated that 3 to 7 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 11 have sleep apnea. 


What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?

If you have sleep apnea, you may struggle with exhaustion during the day and wake up feeling unrefreshed.  The throat obstruction can cause pauses in breathing that last from a few seconds to minutes. You may snore loudly at night or wake up gasping for air. People with sleep apnea often tend to feel sleepy during the day because the condition severely affects the quality of sleep.

Sleep apnea can lead to other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.Untreated sleep apnea can even increase the risk of a car accident. 

How Are Sleep Apnea And Snoring related? 

Many patients with sleep apnea also suffer from snoring. Snoring occurs when the tissue in the throat collapses and vibrates as air passes through it. This vibration can cause sound. Snoring on its own is harmless, but if you suffer from sleep apnea, it can lead to complications.

Sleep apnea sufferers often snore because their airways collapse when they sleep. This reduces the flow of air, and the individual awakes suddenly to breathe. This can happen many times throughout the night, causing an individual to wake up drowsy and tired.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed? 

Sleep apnea is typically diagnosed by a review of a patient’s medical history. A doctor may also request information regarding the lifestyle of the patient, such as whether they are overweight or smoke cigarettes. Patients are typically required to undergo an overnight sleep study, which monitors breathing and oxygen levels. These tests may be performed in a sleep laboratory or at home. The test results will indicate if the patient is suffering from sleep apnea.

Treatment: CPAPs And Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is treated by wearing a dental appliance called a CPAP at night that keeps the airways open. Patients simply have to wear the appliance while they sleep. A CPAP is a mask that is worn over the nose. The machine regulates air through the mask and into the airways. Maintaining a continuous positive airway pressure prevents the collapse of the tissues in the throat and allows for better sleep throughout the night.

Oral Appliances For Sleep Apnea

Custom-fitted oral appliances can help reduce the severity of sleep apnea. The device keeps the airway open during sleep, so it doesn’t collapse and cause apnea.

When adults and children are affected by obstructive sleep apnea, a dentist might recommend a custom-fitted oral appliance to reduce or eliminate symptoms. These appliances work by repositioning the lower jaw slightly forward in order to keep the mouth closed while sleeping. This helps to prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking the throat, which can alleviate snoring and mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea. 



Custom-fitted devices can prevent the jaw from moving backward, which can help prevent more severe symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. These devices are usually made out of soft plastic and are comfortable to wear. Most patients find that they only need to wear them at night to provide relief from their symptoms. They are generally effective and can minimize or even eliminate snoring. Some appliances are designed with hinges or clasps to keep the device on the patient’s teeth, while others are meant to be worn similarly to a retainer. The devices are custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth and teeth and can easily be adjusted over time if new adjustments are required.


Intraoral Devices

An intraoral device, such as a mandibular repositioning device, is similar to an athletic mouth guard in concept. Mouth guards are custom-fitted appliances that you wear over your teeth while you play sports to prevent damage from injuries or collisions. Similarly, an intraoral device is worn at night to keep the airway open and maintain an open upper airway during sleep so that you can breathe more easily throughout the night.

Tongue Retaining Devices

These appliances are placed in your mouth to keep your tongue from blocking your airway while you sleep. They are typically made of plastic or acrylic and are custom-fitted for your mouth by your dentist. The most common type of device is called an orthotic device since it keeps your jaw forward in a slightly protruded position to help your airway stay open throughout the night. These devices are most commonly used to treat mild cases of sleep apnea.

Some patients find these devices to be uncomfortable, especially for snoring and dry mouth at night. However, newer models are smaller and less bulky, which can cause less discomfort to the wearer. Your dentist can help you decide whether this type of device is a good fit for you.

Nightlase Laser Assisted Snoring Treatment

NightLase is a snoring treatment that uses laser technology to treat the problem in a patient’s throat that is causing him or her to snore. Snoring is caused by a blockage in the airway that causes vibrations and creates the snoring sounds. During this treatment, laser technology is used to heat the soft tissues in the throat, causing a reduction in the size of these tissues to open up the airways and prevent vibrations.

NightLase treatment is performed in the dental office. A local anesthetic is first used to numb the tissue. The laser is then gently placed at the soft palate. Patients report feeling a gentle warming sensation. The laser is activated and generates a gentle vibration that quickly disrupts the tissue and reduces or eliminates snoring. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes and patients can resume normal activities immediately.

NightLase treatment is also recommended for patients with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes breathing interruptions. These pauses usually last between 10 seconds and one minute. People who suffer from sleep apnea have difficulty breathing while they sleep. They usually snore heavily, wake up feeling tired, and have morning headaches.

Patients who suffer from any of the aforementioned symptoms could be good candidates for NightLase treatment. The positive effects of NightLase treatment are not limited to the effects on the airway. Patients who use NightLase often experience better daytime alertness and mental clarity. Some patients also report improved productivity at work, as NightLase promotes better sleep.


Snore Guards For Sleep Apnea

A snore guard is a small plastic device that is inserted in the mouth, usually designed by a dentist Albuquerque NM. The exact method of making one varies based on the type of snore guard, but the general process is the same. First, the dentist will take an impression of the patient’s teeth. A bite record will be taken as well, which records the position of the mouth and teeth. The dentist will use these impressions to make a model of the mouth, which is then used as a guide when fabricating the snore guard.

Myofunctional Disorders And Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Sleep-disordered breathing, or SDB, is a broad term used to describe a variety of breathing problems during sleep. These problems range from simple snoring to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition. In most cases, SDB is a symptom of myofunctional disorders or disorders of the facial muscles or tongue. These disorders result from poor oral habits, such as mouth breathing, thumb sucking, or tongue thrusting.

To find out more about the dental services offered by our dentist in Albuquerque NM, Dr. Snyder, call (505)-293-7611, schedule an online consultation or visit us at 4830 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, Ste. K, Albuquerque, NM, 87111.

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