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Sleep Apnea

Woman covering ears while husband snoresSleep apnea is a condition characterized by intermittent cessation of breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea affects oral health. These effects can be managed here at Peninsula Family Dental Center. Sleep apnea can present as loud snoring, shortness of breath while sleeping, morning headaches, awakening with dry mouth, insomnia, hypersomnia, amnesia, attention deficiency or irritability while awake, episodes of breathing cessation reported by another person, sexual dysfunction, and/or decreased libido. Sleep apnea leaves you fatigued and sleepy.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea. They are obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome. Obstructive sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing caused by intermittent relaxation of the tongue and throat muscles. These muscles also support the soft palate, the uvula, and the tonsils. Relaxation of these muscles leads to narrowing or complete closure of the airway, which reduces the amount of air that travels through the airway into the lungs. The reduced amount of air in the lungs leads to insufficient oxygenation of the blood. The brain detects the low oxygen levels and arouses you from sleep to take in sufficient air. This might cause you to gasp, snort, or choke. This pattern continues in a cycle of thirty to sixty minutes, thereby preventing you from obtaining a deep and soothing sleep.

Central sleep apnea is caused by the failure of the brain to send signals to your muscles involved in breathing. This causes shortness of breath during sleep, or it can prevent you from sleeping at all.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is the combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It is also known as treatment-emergent sleep apnea.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

The risk of sleep apnea increases with obesity, thick neck circumference, increased age, male gender, narrow airway, large tonsils and/or a large tongue, smoking, family history, nasal congestion, and use of alcohol, tranquilizers, and sedatives. The risk of sleep apnea also increases with the presence of medical conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, polycystic ovary syndrome, Parkinson's disease, hormonal disorders, and a previous history of a stroke.

Effect of Sleep Apnea on Health

Sleep apnea has several effects on social life, productivity levels, and physical health. In regards to oral health, sleep apnea causes you to breathe through the mouth. This will lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth has several consequences, the most common of which is dental caries. The drying of saliva by air in an open mouth prevents the cleansing of the mouth and allows bacterial colonies to blossom. The force of involuntary tooth grinding in bruxism can damage the enamel and dentin of the tooth, exposing the innermost part of the tooth to infection. Moreover, it contributes to plaque formation and can cause cold sores, increased tooth sensitivity and pain, gum bleeding, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMDs) can also be caused by sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea does not only affect oral health. It also has a systemic effect. It can contribute to cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic diseases. These health issues can be prevented by prompt and wholesome dental intervention through treating sleep apnea. Visit us at Peninsula Family Dental Center to discuss available options for the management of sleep apnea and its side effects. Schedule your appointment today by calling us at (907) 283-9125.
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