While many of us snore during sleep, consistent snoring should be evaluated to determine if you’re suffering from a potentially dangerous sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In addition to affecting the quality of your sleep each night, OSA also affects your overall health and puts you at an increased risk for both cardiovascular and systemic-related diseases.
Fortunately, our experienced Alexandria dentist Dr. Mojgan Mazhari has received training in sleep apnea and snoring treatment. Here’s how the professionals at Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio can help you.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
OSA is caused by a blockage of the air passageways during sleep. This typically occurs when excess tissue at the back of the throat or the tongue falls across and obstructs the airway. The sudden lack of oxygen will typically cause the patient to wake up, gasping for air. Usually, patients fall back to sleep so quickly that they don’t remember being awakened during the night—but these incidents can happen hundreds of times.
There’s also a much less common form of sleep apnea, known as central sleep apnea (CSA). Whereas OSA is typically the result of physical factors, CSA often has a neurological component.
Certain factors put patients at a higher risk of developing the disorder. They include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being a smoker
- Having high blood pressure
- Having a large neck circumference
- Chronic nasal congestion
Patients experiencing CSA require treatment from a medical doctor following a formal diagnosis.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are numerous symptoms of OSA. While each person is different, here are some of the most common.
Snoring is a sign your airway is obstructed, which means you’re not getting the proper oxygen you need throughout the night.
If you feel tired and groggy during the day, you may not be getting the rest you need at night because of the constant breathing interruptions caused by OSA.
People who snore extensively tend to breathe through their mouths at night, resulting in dry mouth. This condition isn’t just uncomfortable—it’s also damaging to your oral health. Having a dry mouth upsets the balance of bacteria in your oral cavity, making it more likely that your enamel will be worn away.
Some patients experience headaches in the morning if they have sleep apnea. These headaches, ranging from mild to severe, are usually the result of decreased oxygen to the brain.
Mental Health Issues
People who suffer from sleep disorders and related sleep disruption are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, mood swings, and cognitive impairment. Poor and frequently interrupted sleep can also lead to certain hormonal and chemical imbalances in the brain and body.
If you or a loved one is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, we encourage you to reach out to a medical professional. Dr. Mazrahi has received specialized training that allows her to better treat obstructive sleep apnea.
What Happens If Sleep Apnea Goes Untreated?
The disorder can be life-threatening when left untreated. In addition to causing chronic fatigue and the resulting symptoms, sleep apnea also puts you at risk for:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatment by an Alexandria, Virginia, Dentist
Our office has two primary types of sleep apnea and snoring treatment options.
Micr02 Oral Therapy
MicrO2 Sleep and Snore oral appliances can be an effective treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. These customized appliances fit much like a sports mouth guard and allow patients to get a healthy and restful night’s sleep. Some people prefer them as an alternative to a traditional CPAP machine. Micr02 appliances are metal-free and permit users to speak clearly and consume liquids while wearing them.
Dr. Mazhari may also recommend the use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to relax your muscles and enable proper bite alignment. In many cases, tension in the jaw as a result of either OSA symptoms or treatment leads to an uncomfortable bite and headaches. This therapy relaxes jaw muscles, which releases the bite back to its natural position and alleviates pressure on the joints, cranial nerves, and surrounding tissue.