Obstructive sleep apnea is more commonly diagnosed in men than in women. However, anyone can develop this condition, including children. Obstructive sleep apnea can occur when abnormalities in the structure and function of your throat and mouth cause your airways to become blocked while sleeping. Sleep apnea can be fatal if it is not treated. Fortunately, your regular dentist can prescribe treatments to help you breathe easier at night.
Oral appliance therapy provided by a dentist can help patients keep their airways open while they sleep. The most common form of oral appliance prescribed for sleep apnea is a mandibular advancement device. MADs advance a person's upper jaw to create additional space in the back of their mouth. If you require a MAD, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth to provide you with a custom-fitted one. Here are three signs that you may need to talk to your dentist about sleep apnea:
1. You feel tired during the day.
Sleep apnea can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. It's possible for a person with this condition to wake up many times during the night while having no memory of it the next day. If you find yourself feeling tired in the morning, no matter how much sleep you get, you may want to be tested for sleep apnea. Increased caffeine consumption in order to fight fatigue can also be a sign of sleep apnea.
2. You wake up feeling like you can't breathe.
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night feeling short of breath, you may suffer from sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea sometimes stop breathing when they fall asleep. Sometimes this lack of oxygen can cause a person to suddenly awaken. If you notice the symptom, talk to your dentist right away about potentially having sleep apnea.
3. Your child is falling asleep at inappropriate times and struggling in school.
Sleep apnea commonly affects older adults, but it can affect children as well. Children may not know about sleep apnea, so it's up to their parents to watch for symptoms. If your child is falling asleep during the day and performing poorly in their classes, poor sleep quality may be to blame. Signing your child up for a sleep study can help you find the root of their problems. If your child does suffer from sleep apnea, you can bring it up with their dentist at their next appointment.