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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Did you know that an estimated 57% of men and 40% of women in the United States snore? While most people try to ignore it, snoring could be an indicator of Obstructive Sleep Apnea — a condition that may be causing more harm than you might think.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to block your airways. It can cause you to stop breathing anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute at a time — and it happens hundreds of times each night. Such breathing pauses are typically followed by brief awakenings, which disturb your sleep and cause excessive sleepiness throughout the day.

What are the symptoms?

The following symptoms could indicate that you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea: 

  • Loud, frequent snoring 
  • Silent pauses in breathing while sleeping 
  • Choking or gasping sounds while sleeping 
  • Waking up frequently to use the bathroom at night
  • Feeling tired and unrefreshed upon waking up 
  • Morning headaches 
  • Excessive fatigue during the day 
  • Issues with concentration and memory

Why is it important to treat OSA?

Not only is the sleep deprivation caused by OSA detrimental to your health, it can be detrimental to those around you, too. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can increase your risk of drowsy driving, workplace accidents, and countless other problems, including: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Higher risk of Alzheimer’s 
  • Heart issues 
  • Low blood surgar & metabolism 
  • Higher risk of stroke

What are the treatment options?

There are a few different treatment options for OSA: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliance therapy (OAT), and varying surgical procedures have all been used to treat OSA patients.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy

This option involves wearing a face mask connected to a machine that provides air pressure just high enough to prevent the collapse of your airway.

Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)

OAT is a bit quieter than having a CPAP machine running all night long — this is when a patient wears a mouth guard-like device at night to help maintain an open, unobstructed airway. The good news about this option? It can be prescribed by your dentist.

Although OSA doesn’t directly affect your dental health, we’re educating our readers about it because as dentists, we can offer treatments like Oral Appliance Therapy. Your sleeping patterns affect the rest of your functioning, and when they’re thrown off by something as seemingly harmless as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it can have a ripple effect on the rest of your life.

Want to learn more? Fill out our appointment request form or give us a call at 410-431-1768.

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