Obstructive Sleep Apnea, also known as OSA, is chronic condition characterized by the relaxation of muscles during sleep resulting in the collapse of soft tissues and blockage of the airway. This disturbs sleeping patterns and forces a person to wake up, often multiple times at night, due to shortness of breath. The airway blockage may last anywhere from a few seconds to even a minute or more. Repeated breathing pauses can cause oxygen levels in the body to drop considerably. The individual suffering from this condition therefore experiences fatigue, stress, lethargy and a strong urge to sleep throughout the day.
The most common signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea include snoring, gasping or making choking sounds during sleep. If left untreated, the condition can lead to development of a number of systemic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, elevated blood pressure, and acid reflux. Fortunately, dentistry offer simple, painless treatment options that minimize or eliminate chances of airway obstruction during sleep.
Depending upon the case and age of the patient, dentists generally aim to correct the condition by advising appliances that resemble mouth guards which prevent collapse of soft tissues surrounding the respiratory tract, or Constant Positive Airway Pressure face masks. However, among the two treatment options, patients tend to feel more comfortable opting for and using mouth guards rather than CPAP face masks.
Dental surgeons carefully evaluate each case before planning a treatment that suits the requirements of the patient best. If the sleep apnea is rooted to a dental or skeletal irregularity, dentists first aim to eliminate the primary cause before proceeding with appliance design. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, or wake up frequently trying to catch your breath, get in touch with the team of specialists at Oral Surgery Specialists of Austin today to discuss your treatment options!