Understanding your condition, and why it is can be a big step on the road to handling it.
A few sleep apnea facts, and what you can do about it:
When you breathe, air travels through passages in your nose and throat. When these air passages are wide enough to let air flow freely, you breath normally. But if the passages become narrowed, you may snore. And if they become blocked and you can’t breath, you have sleep apnea.
Snoring: If the structures in your throat are bulky or the throat muscles relax too much, the airway may be partly blocked. Air flowing through the throat makes these structures vibrate. That vibration is what causes snoring.
Sleep Apnea: Blockage in the throat can partially or completely stop air from flowing. If this happens, the brain tells the body to wake up just enough to tighten the muscels and open the airway. This cycle may repeat many times during the night, some times thousands of times.
Sleep Apnea Signs & Symptoms:
- Snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing.
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Morning Headaches
- Restless Sleep
- Poor Concentration
- Memory Loss
- Large Neck
Consequences if Left Untreated:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack
- Motor Vehicle and work-related accidents due to sleepiness
- Sexual dysfunction
- Intellectual deterioration
Changing Some Habits May Help:
Changing a few habits may be all you need to stop snoring and prevent mild sleep apnea. Even if you need further treatment, these changes are a good place to start.
Five Things You Can Do:
Sleep on your side:
When you sleep on your back, gravity pulls relaxed throat tissues down, blocking the airway. So sleeping on your side may reduce the blockage. That may mean less snoring and less apnea. To prevent rolling onto your back, try putting tennis balls(or other round objects) into a sock sewn onto the back of your nightwear.
Avoid Alcohol and Certain Medications:
Alcohol or medications such as sedatives, sleeping pills, and some antihistamines relax your throat muscles more than usual. That may cause or worsen blockage, snoring and apnea. Avoid alcohol 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. Talk to your doctor about medications you take.
Excess weight makes the structures in your throat more bulky, loose and prone being relaxed. That makes breathing harder and snoring and apnea worse. Ask your doctor for a wight-loss program. Being more active throughout the day and choosing healthier foods can help lose weight.
Unblock Your Nose:
A blocked-up nose makes snoring and apnea worse. If you have allergies or sinus promblems, ask your doctor for help. If you have nasal problems, nasal strips may make breathing easier. Smoking worsens a stuffy nose.
For simple snoring or mild to moderate apnea, a special oral appliance may help. One of StarBrite Dentals’ specialists works with your Sleep Specialist to build and fit an oral appliance just for you.
How do they work?
Most oral appliances move the jaw and tongue forward. That keeps the tongue from blocking the airway. These devices can be created for varying degrees of sleep issues from mild snoring to moderate Sleep Apnea. Your dentist here at StarBrite Dental, using the results of your sleep study, can custom fit one for your particular need.
Tips for Success with Oral Appliances:
Avoid over-the-counter appliances- they often don’t work.
Expect several rounds of adjustments to get it to fit and work just right for you.
Oral appliances don’t cure the problems that cause snoring or apnea. So you need to use it every time you sleep.
Follow the instructions for keeping it clean.
When the appliance is not in use, store it in its case.
It may take some time to get used to earing your oral appliance. At first it may feel uncomfortable or make your mouth water. If these problems persist, give our dental office a call.
Please contact StarBrite Dental to schedule your complimentary Epworth Sleepiness Scale Consultation.
Starbrite Dental in Rockville, MD
5930 Hubbard Drive Rockville, MD 20852
Tel: (301) 770-1070