About 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that interrupts the deep stages of sleep necessary for mental alertness and physical recovery. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive where tissues in your throat relax and collapse, restricting the amount of air that moves through when you breathe. In moderate to severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), breathing can stop entirely, forcing your brain to wake you enough to restart.
Though sleep apnea requires a medical diagnosis, your doctor may send you to Metairie Village Dentistry for treatment. It might be a surprise to many that a dental practice can help with a medical problem, but we are sleep apnea treatment specialists. We offer multiple approaches to OSA therapy in Metairie, Louisiana, so we can help you recover the restful sleep you need.
Defining sleep apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea. While the majority of cases are obstructive, there’s a type called central sleep apnea caused by irregular messages from the brain. It’s also possible for obstructive and central sleep apnea to combine into a third type called complex sleep apnea. When you’re referred to a dentist for treatment, though, you’ll have OSA.
Causes of OSA
OSA happens when your throat relaxes. The flap of the soft palate — a collection of tissue at the top and back of the mouth — drops, blocking air through the nose, while your tongue collapses and prevents air from passing through your mouth.
There are many risk factors. In some cases, it might be genetic. Your airways may simply be smaller than average, taking very little tissue collapse to trigger OSA.
OSA is more common as you get older. Women may be more at risk after menopause, but overall, men are up to three times more likely to develop OSA than women.
Other risk factors that can contribute to OSA include:
- Being overweight: fat deposits around your neck add to the tissue that can block your throat
- Muscle relaxants, sedatives, and tranquilizers can make OSA more severe
- Alcohol use: alcohol deepens muscle relaxation
- Other medical conditions: asthma, congestive heart failure, type 2 diabetes, chronic lung disease, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, and Parkinson’s disease
- Nasal congestion: chronic sinusitis can worsen OSA
- Smoking: causes inflammation and fluid retention in the upper respiratory tract. Smoking triples your risk of OSA
Making lifestyle changes can reduce or eliminate your symptoms. Our team can give you instructions on the most effective ways to improve your condition.
When you visit Metairie Village Dentistry, in addition to custom oral appliances, we offer the Fotona® NightLase® snoring and sleep apnea treatment system — a non-invasive laser system that tightens collagen in the throat, widening the diameter of your airways using gentle, light-based heat.
Consult with us to learn more about your OSA treatment options. You can request an appointment online or with a direct call to the office. Your sleep is essential to your health so book your visit today.