Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is thought to affect at least 1.5 million adults in the UK. You may be one of those affected or you may be the partner of someone with OSA.
Sleep apnea can include trouble falling asleep, trouble maintaining sleep, snoring, waking up in the night and catching your breath in your sleep. The disorder causes people to pause their breathing or have shallow breathing during sleep. Each pause happens multiple times in the night and can last anything from a few seconds to a few minutes at a time.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs because the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite the person’s efforts to breathe. It can cause disrupted sleep, and low blood oxygen levels. This combination can lead to mood and memory problems, as well as potentially hypertension and even heart disease.
If you think you or your partner may have sleep apnea, what can you do? The first thing San Ramon Dental Excellence in San Ramon, California would suggest is to complete a screening test.
The Epworth Sleep Apnea Screening Test was introduced by Dr. Murray Johns in 1991 and has been validated and in use in obstructive sleep apnea treatment ever since. It is a simple and accurate way to screen yourself for the disorder.
If the results of your screening test were 10 or higher on the Epworth Sleep Apnea Scale, you should make an appointment with your doctor. You should take with you details of your sleep patterns, fatigue levels and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. You could also try having a sleep test (Polysomnogram or PSG) available sleep clinics.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
CPAP – the most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. It is a continuous positive-pressure mask that sits over your mouth and nose whilst you sleep. It gently blows air into the airway, which helps keep it open whilst the user sleeps. This treatment is highly effective. However, many patients find it a bit invasive and uncomfortable.
For any patients looking for an alternative to CPAP, there are other oral appliances, sometimes called MADs (Mandibular Advancing Devices) or MRD (Mandibular Repositioning Device).
MAD – Mandibular Advancement Device – this is the most widely used mouth device for sleep apnea. It looks much like the mouth guards used for contact sports. The devices fit over the upper and lower dental arches. The metal hinges ease the lower jaw and tongue forward slightly and create more space for breathing, which helps with sleep apnea and snoring.
MRD – Mandibular Repositioning Device – is a mouth guard made by your dentist that can hold your bottom jaw forward whilst you sleep. The design has small triangle-shaped wings, which keep the jaw in place. You can talk, drink and breathe as normal whilst wearing the device. The wings help keep the airways open and free from obstruction, which in turn helps with sleep apnea.
Additional Lifestyle Changes to try
Try losing weight – weight loss is one of the best things you can do to combat sleep apnea.
Avoid alcohol – it makes the upper airway breathing muscles relax and causes a person to wake up frequently.
Quit smoking – cigarettes make the upper airway swell, which makes the sleep apnea worse.
Try lying on your side – if you have mild sleep apnea, lying on your side could reduce snoring and alleviate breathing problems. You could try attaching a tennis ball onto the back of your pyjama top or t-shirt. Placing the tennis ball inside the t-shirt and then wrapping an elastic band or hairband on the outside to secure it should do the trick.
If you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea or snoring issues and you would like to discuss treatments from a knowledgeable and professional dental practice, please contact San Ramon Dental Excellence on the details below:- Or you can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.
San Ramon Dental Excellence
2301 Camino Ramon Suite 282
Tel: – 00 1 925 866 8890