Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. This condition can lead to severe changes in your sleeping habits, in addition to serious overall health problems and difficulties in your relationships with others. Dr. Susie Ang offers a range of effective treatment options to lessen the harmful effects of snoring and sleep apnea and help you get a better, healthier night’s sleep.
Causes of Snoring and Sleep Apnea
When you sleep, muscles in the throat and mouth expand and relax, causing your airway to narrow. If the airway becomes so narrow that you miss breaths, you likely have sleep apnea. These missed breaths can last as long as 10 seconds or more. Snoring is just one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. When you snore, air is passing through the narrowed airway and causing vibration among the soft tissues at the back of the throat. This ultimately results in a struggle to breathe – and the harder the struggle, the louder the snoring becomes. Snoring can be the result of:
- Sleep apnea and breathing interruption during sleep
- A dry/irritated airway caused by an arid climate, heating systems, and/or smoking
- Swollen nasal tissues
- Muscles that become too relaxed after the use of medications or alcohol
Individuals with a small mouth and a large tongue, impaired tongue function and posture, and enlarged tonsils may also be more at risk for sleep apnea. In fact, some of these issues, as well as crowded teeth and a narrow/deep palate, are things that people with sleep apnea and TMJ Disorder have in common. When the tongue does not have adequate room to fit and function in the mouth, the body compensates and adapts. This adaptation can create stress and strain in the head and neck area. During deep sleep in individuals with “small” mouths or crowded teeth, the tongue can creep into the airway space. In that event, the tongue can obstruct the airway and cause breathing problems during sleep. In fact, the tongue can crowd into the airway whether the individual is sleeping or awake. If it doesn’t have adequate room, it simply may not be able to function properly and encroach upon the airway space.
Those with type 2 diabetes and other health conditions are also more likely to be affected by obstructive sleep apnea. The condition is also more likely to develop as people age and gain weight.
What Dangers Do Sleep Apnea Pose to My Overall Health?
Sleep apnea interrupts the body’s ability to repair itself during sleep and can ultimately lead to the development of other health problems, including:
- Increased risk of sudden cardiac death during sleep
- Congestive heart failure
- Increased risk of cardiac failure, heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening health conditions
- Mental impairment of cognitive functions such as memory and complex, rational hought
- Anxiety, depression, stress, and mood swings
- High blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity
- Less motor control
- Less alertness
- Increased risk of erectile dysfunction
Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea in children may lead to many issues, including learning disabilities, depression, ADHD, anxiety, poor social skills, and other concerns that may not initially seem connected to a sleeping disorder. If these conditions are affecting your child, it can be a good idea to evaluate how they are sleeping and how they are breathing during sleep.
Potential Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea in Children
- Loud breathing during sleep
- Grinding/clenching of the teeth during sleep
- Stuffy nose
Potential Symptoms of Pediatric Sleep Apnea and Disordered Breathing
- Loud, heavy breathing or snoring while sleeping
- Persistent dry lips
- A history of sleep apnea in the family
- Bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching while sleeping)
- Difficulty waking up
- Dry mouth while sleeping
- Persistent stuffy nose or runny nose
- Poor focus/hyperactivity
- Ear infections
- Difficulty staying awake and alert at school or while in the car
- Misaligned teeth
How Dentistry Can Help
The good news about sleep apnea for both adults and children is the fact that there are a wide variety of treatments that have proven effective in reducing the effects of the condition and giving patients a more peaceful night’s sleep. Dr. Ang can help you or your child combat sleep apnea with treatments including airway orthodontic appliances and oral appliances such as Vivos® to improve your airway and allow you to breathe better through the nose when you sleep. These appliances are custom-designed for each patient in order to ensure the most comfortable fit.
Vivos® Integrated Provider
Dr. Ang is one of the few Vivos® Integrated Providers in Ontario and Eastern Canada. The Vivos® Therapeutics organization utilizes an innovative approach to treating patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea and other conditions. By helping dentists collaborate with physicians and Vivos® technicians to provide customized, effective oral appliance therapy, many patients are able to address the root cause of sleep apnea along with the symptoms.
Please contact Dr. Ang for more information on treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.