Snoring can ruin a good night’s sleep, and not just for the person next to you. While it often happens for a variety of reasons, it’s also the most common indication of sleep apnea, a more severe issue that can affect your physical and even dental health.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects more than 3 million people a year. During sleep, the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse, restricting or blocking the airway, preventing a restful, restorative slumber.
Sleep apnea causes breathing to stop for short periods potentially hundreds of times a night, which in turn causes blood oxygen levels to drop and sufferers to wake constantly – though most patients have no idea that it’s even happening. They may feel the negative effects of poor sleep, however, which can be dangerous if left untreated.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Since it can be tough to identify an issue that occurs when you’re not conscious, here are the most common symptoms of sleep apnea to look out for.
Snorting, choking, or gasping sounds while snoring may indicate apnea. While snoring often happens for many other reasons, it is the condition’s most prevalent symptom.
Sleep apnea causes you to literally stop breathing for short periods. Patients might appear to stop breathing entirely for a few moments, then make a loud noise (like choking or gasping) when they catch their breath again.
You may not remember when it happens, but if you do have any memories of waking abruptly during the night —especially with shortness of breath—it could be an indication of sleep apnea.
Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
You may wake up with a dry mouth, chapped lips, or a scratchy throat, as If your mouth is open during the night while you try to breathe. This can be especially bad for your dental health, as dry mouth allows harmful bacteria to flourish and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.
Because your blood oxygen levels drops when you stop breathing, then rise again after you catch your breath, sleep apnea can often result in a headache the next morning.
Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect you during the night. Sleep deprivation caused by interrupted sleep can also have a snowball effect. That means that the more you don’t sleep, the more difficult it becomes to fall asleep.
Feeling tired during the day
Prolonged, untreated sleep apnea means prolonged, untreated sleep deprivation. You may feel exhausted on waking and throughout the day, even if you think you had a good night’s sleep.
Irritability, anxiety, or depression
Loss of healthy sleep can lead to changes in your mood or more pronounced and intense mood disorders. Attention problems, irritability, anxiety, depression, or other significant changes in your mood could be caused by sleep apnea.
For treatment of this common, but serious disorder, Dr. Wes Mullins of My Family Dentistry can prescribe a sleep apnea device to help correct the problem.
Sleep apnea devices fall into two main groups: those that hold the tongue forward, and those that change the position of the lower jaw. Comfort is essential to getting deep, quality sleep, which is why the IST Appliance Dr. Wes recommends is fully adjustable and custom-fitted just for you. It allows you to move your mouth while maintaining the jaw in a forward position. Better yet, it doesn’t put any additional pressure on your face while you sleep. It’s the gold standard for safe, effective, comfortable sleep apnea devices.
If you’re suffering from any common symptoms of sleep apnea, considering consulting with your healthcare professional or contacting us to set up an appointment.
This blog was originally published on December 20, 2016, but has since been updated.
If you exhibit any common symptoms of sleep apnea, like those listed above, reach out to us below to learn more about this condition.