Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a health condition that affects millions of people, yet there are so many people that do not even know they have it. Because it is often undiagnosed, many dentists have taken an interest in this condition, and this is why your dentist may ask you questions about your sleep habits at your next appointment. If your dentist suspects you may have this condition, he or she can help you understand the following three things about OSA.
What OSA Is
If the answers you give your dentist make him or her suspect that you might have OSA, the dentist is likely to explain to you what this condition is. The easiest way to explain OSA is that it is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing while he or she sleeps. This happens when the tissue in the person's throat relaxes too much and gets in the way of the breathing passage. When air cannot get through while you sleep, it stops you from breathing, and this triggers your brain to respond to your heart telling it to beat harder to make you breathe. This can happen only a few times each night or hundreds of times.
Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of OSA, but snoring does not automatically mean you have this. Another symptom of OSA is feeling tired all the time. If you feel like you are never fully rested, it could be a sign of this condition. People with OSA do not get a good night's sleep, because they are constantly being awoken each time they stop breathing.
The Risks Of Not Treating This Condition
Your dentist is also likely to help you fully understand the health risks of leaving OSA untreated. One of the main health risks of leaving this untreated is heart problems. Your heart will be put through a great deal of stress and trauma each time you stop breathing. Your brain is what senses that you stop breathing, but your heart is triggered from this, and the result is that it beats harder. This can lead to high blood pressure and a higher risk of developing a heart attack or heart disease.
In addition to this, you will be at a higher risk for developing other types of health problems and emotional problems. You will feel tired all the time and you may be moody and irritable from this. You might start suffering from depression from being so tired, and you will be at a higher risk for developing diabetes or having a stroke. These are just a few health risks you take by failing to get this diagnosed and treated properly.
How Wearing An Oral Appliance Can Be A Great Solution
Finally, your dentist is likely to recommend trying an oral appliance as a treatment option for your OSA. This is the easiest and most affordable to option to try first before other options, and your dentist will be able to custom-make the appliance for you. This appliance is similar to something a boxer would wear in the ring to protect his or her teeth, and it is something you will only wear while you sleep.
The purpose of an oral appliance is to keep your jaw from closing all the way. This means your jaw will be slightly open while you sleep, and this will help keep your airway open. If you can keep your airway open, you will not stop breathing at night.
OSA is condition that can lead to major health problems, but it is also something that is relatively easy to treat. If you believe you may have this and want to reduce the risks of having untreated OSA, visit a dentist to find out what you can do.