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Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can disrupt a person’s life by affecting their concentration, physical coordination and mood. Snoring is the most obvious symptom of sleep apnea, but the disorder a breathing problem that is caused by issues involving the throat. Treatment can come from a sleep specialist, a surgeon or a dentist. Here are some of the most common questions people have about sleep apnea and treatment options.
Q: What is sleep apnea?
A: Sleep apnea is a cessation of breathing that occurs during sleep. The periods of not breathing last for only seconds or even less, but happen frequently; possibly hundreds of times during a night’s sleep.
Q: What causes sleep apnea?
A: The breathing stoppage occurs when air is blocked by tissues in the back of throat or sometimes by the tongue falling backward.
Q: Why do I sometimes hear the term obstructive sleep apnea? Are there different kinds?
A: Yes. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, and as the name implies, it is caused by an obstruction to the air passageways. Other types of sleep apnea involve neurological signals and do not involve obstructions.
Q: Does snoring cause obstructive sleep apnea?
A: No; obstructive sleep apnea causes snoring. Snoring is a symptom caused by air trying to get through the blockage.
Q: Are sleep apnea products advertised on television effective?
A: Sleep apnea needs to be treated on an individual basis. Over the counter or TV-advertised products are not effective treatment methods.
Q: What are some other symptoms of sleep apnea?
A: Fatigue or a constant feeling of being tired even if you think you get enough sleep, trouble concentrating and irritability are all signs that you may have a sleep disorder.
Q: I’ve heard that a dentist can treat sleep apnea. How?
A: Dentists like Dr. Gordon Rye can treat sleep apnea by fitting a patient with an oral appliance that fits like a mouth guard. This device is worn while sleeping and gently positions the teeth, jaws and tongue correctly so that air can pass through unobstructed.
Q: What are the advantages to dental treatment for sleep apnea?
A: CPAP or other treatment from a medical doctor works well for many sleep apnea sufferers, but for those who find it uncomfortable to wear the mask, dislike the sound of the machine or want a smaller or more portable solution that does not require electricity, an oral appliance may be the ideal solution.
Q: Can I visit Rye Smiles for Life to be tested for sleep apnea?
A: Dr. Rye can recognize symptoms of sleep apnea, but in order to be diagnosed it is necessary to have a sleep test performed by a doctor. Dr. Rye can make a referral to a sleep specialist.
Q: Can sleep apnea be cured?
A: No, it is an ongoing condition that can only be treated to control the symptoms and allow free breathing during sleep. While you are undergoing treatment by Dr. Rye, he can continually monitor your situation and make adjustments to your oral appliance as necessary.