Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to breathe while you sleep. Sleep apnea can disrupt your sleeping more than 30 times a night and is characterized by pauses in normal breathing, gasping in your sleep, waking up with headaches, feeling foggy and tired during the day and, most infamously, excessive snoring that might keep your partner awake.
There are several options for treating sleep apnea depending on the cause and severity of your apnea. It’s also important for us to find a solution that suits your lifestyle.
The good news is that mild cases of sleep apnea can be treated right at home. The dentist may recommend losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, changing the way you sleep, following sleep hygiene recommendations, and quitting smoking. These recommendations are so safe and effective, we often recommend them even in tandem with other treatments.
Currently the most common treatment for sleep apnea, you may already be familiar with CPAP machines. A mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a constant steady stream of air that helps keep your airways open so you can breathe normally. There are different kinds of masks and machines available depending on your needs and what you’re comfortable sleeping with.
There are a few appliances that are worn in the mouth while sleeping that can alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. They typically look and feel a bit like a mouthguard. Their function will depend on what’s causing your sleep apnea symptoms and they may alleviate snoring, pull the jaw forward to keep your airway clear or stabilize your tongue.
Some causes of sleep apnea can be treated with surgery or medication. The most common types of surgery for sleep apnea problems include repairing a deviated septum in the nose, fixing a narrow throat or airway, or making adjustments to the jaw area to relieve throat blockages.