Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder. Those with sleep apnea suffer from recurring, interrupted breathing of at least 10 seconds during sleep. There are three main types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form of this disorder and occurs when your throat muscles relax.

Central sleep apnea
If your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing, the diagnosis is central sleep apnea.

Complex sleep apnea
Complex sleep apnea is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. The doctors at Prime Smile Dental Group diagnose you with complex sleep apnea if you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Your sleep apnea evaluation at Prime Smile Dental Group begins with a review of your medical and dental histories, as well as your signs and symptoms. The two most common ways to diagnose sleep apnea are:

Nocturnal polysomnography
You spend the night at a facility where your heart, lungs, brain activity, breathing patterns, arm, and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels are monitored while you sleep.

Home sleep tests
Your doctor at Prime Smile Dental Group provides you with simplified tests you use at home. These tests measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow, and breathing patterns.

How is sleep apnea treated?
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications include:

  • Daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and moodiness
  • High blood pressure or heart problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar, increased waist circumference
  • Liver problems

While continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP, is the most recommended treatment, many complain it’s cumbersome and causes:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Skin irritation
  • Accidentally removal

For those patients, there are two categories of dental devices available at Prime Smile Dental Group:

Mandibular advancement devices (MADs)
MADs look similar to sports mouthguards and orthodontic retainers. They fit in your mouth by snapping over your upper and lower dental arches. MADs work by pushing your lower jaw and tongue forward, preventing your throat muscles from collapsing back into your airways and allowing you to breathe normally while you sleep.

Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces
While similar in construction to MADs, tongue retaining mouthpieces have a small compartment that fits around your tongue and uses suction to keep it held forward. This device prevents your tongue from collapsing back into your airway and helps patients who cannot have their jaw repositioned.

If your sleep apnea is causing your partner to complain, call or make an appointment online today with one of the dentists at Prime Smile Dental Group in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

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Kristie Jensen

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Melinda Fleming

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