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Snoring and breathing pauses during sleep are typically caused by a condition known as sleep apnea. Many people suffer from sleep apnea, and it can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Our practice offers a number of treatment options that can reduce the risks of sleep apnea and help you get a more restful and healthy night’s sleep.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common form of the disorder, is characterized by a narrowing or total blockage of air through breathing passages during sleep. It is natural for the tongue and other tissues and muscles in oral cavities to become relaxed while sleeping; however, when they become excessively relaxed, they can drop into the airway. This can cause breathing passages to become too narrow, ultimately leading to snoring, teeth grinding, and/or pauses in breathing of up to 10 seconds or more. These breathing pauses can occur hundreds of times during the night and dramatically increase risks to one’s health, in addition to having a deteriorating effect on an individual’s day-to-day life. In many cases, people with sleep apnea are not even aware of the problem unless someone else tells them about it. With treatment, the many symptoms and risks associated with sleep apnea can be significantly reduced.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Pauses in normal breathing during sleep
  • Snoring
  • Waking up very sharply and suddenly, often with a feeling that you are choking or gasping for air
  • Fatigue during waking hours
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • A feeling of restlessness
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings/irritability
  • Chronic sleepiness
  • Sexual dysfunction

What Are the Risks of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can not only produce numerous debilitating symptoms, but it can also lead to serious—even life-threatening—general health risks. Some of the many risks of sleep apnea include:

  • Sudden cardiac death
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Gastric reflux
  • Accident while driving or at work

With the large number of symptoms and risks that sleep apnea can cause in both adults and children alike, it is very important to be aware of the signs. A proper evaluation and diagnosis of sleep apnea can help determine the type and severity of the condition, which can ultimately help patients attain a treatment solution to address its effects.

What Are My Sleep Apnea Treatment Options?

At Scottsdale Smile Center, we offer custom-designed snore guards and nightguards that can help you keep a positive flow of air through your breathing passages. These innovative appliances can reduce snoring by gently advancing the lower jaw forward, which pulls soft tissues of the airway taut, thereby diminishing the potential for muscles and soft oral tissues to obstruct a normal flow of air during sleep. While CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines are the gold standard and most effective for treatment of sleep apnea, many patients are unable or unwilling to tolerate the noisy CPAP equipment and cumbersome apparatus that needs to be worn throughout the night. Customized oral appliances are somewhat similar in appearance to orthodontic retainers. They are designed for the best possible fit and can serve as a more comfortable alternative to a CPAP machine for many patients, or as an adjunctive treatment that can be used in combination with CPAP therapy. Many patients use an oral appliance while traveling to avoid transporting their CPAP machine. Whatever your reason may be, once our dentist evaluates your needs he can help you determine the most ideal option and develop a personalized treatment plan.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Scottsdale Smile Center today.