Spokane Valley, WA
Sleep apnea is a huge problem for many adults, and many adults choose to ignore it because they don’t want to sleep with a machine. Dentists have a solution. A common step many patients take is to talk to their physician about sleep apnea when it is your dentist who knows your oral cavity best. We can provide both surgical and non-surgical solutions to help you breathe easier while you sleep. At Coulter Family Dentistry, we have solutions that may not necessarily require a bulky CPAP. Many patients simply require a small dental appliance, similar to a retainer, while they sleep.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that occurs when a patient's ability to take in air is limited or stopped. This is most often due to a collapse of tissue around the airway when your muscles relax. When the airway is cut off, and the necessary oxygen is unable to reach your brain, your brain will suddenly disturb you just enough to get you to open your mouth and gasp for air. This act often does not wake a patient entirely but does disturb their REM, disrupting a full night’s rest. The results of continually living with sleep apnea are exhaustion and can even damage your heart.
Many physicians suggest a CPAP, which forces air into your lungs while you sleep. The machine is loud, bulky, and does little for your aesthetic, often bringing embarrassment or shame to the patient. Dentists approach this problem differently, we look to see how we can help you open your airway.
The most typical cause of sleep apnea is the tongue. When a patient relaxes in a sleeping state, their tongue often slips slightly backward, closing partially or entirely the airway. A simple dental appliance can be worn to pull your tongue slightly forward and keep it in place.
Additionally, there are some simple surgical steps that we can take to help. This often includes the removal of excessive tissue. The most commonly performed dental procedure is known by the complicated name of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, this surgery involves the trimming of a bulky soft palate. Other procedures such as mandibular advancement and nasal or sinus surgeries are other options. We would want to evaluate and discuss your options customized to you.
Do I have sleep apnea?
Determining if you have sleep apnea can be difficult, after all, it occurs while you are sleeping. However, there are some tips and clues that can help you know if this is a problem. Often, the first person to note a patient has sleep apnea is your partner, the person you share a bed with. They are your most valuable resource to determine if you are snoring loudly, which suddenly ends in silence and then followed by a gasp. Next, you can ask yourself some questions, such as are you finding that you are constantly tired, even if it seems that you have slept a full night? Are you waking with migraines? These are both common symptoms of a person whose sleep may be being disturbed from sleep apnea. We can help. Schedule an appointment for an evaluation today.