Everybody will snore occasionally, but did you know persistent snoring might be a symptom of a far more serious condition called sleep apnea?

In fact, sleep apnea can affect your general health, which is why it is so important to get a definitive diagnosis and suitable treatment.

Sleep apnea can be caused by the brain failing to tell the body when to breathe and which is called central sleep apnea. The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). According to the Government of Canada, approximately 3% of Canadians over age 18 have sleep apnea, and more than a quarter have symptoms or risk factors of developing OSA.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA is triggered when the airway collapses as your throat muscles relax during sleep, preventing you from breathing normally. It causes pauses in the breath that can last a few seconds or longer. Eventually, the fall in oxygen levels alerts the brain to restart your breathing, often with a loud gasp or snort. These episodes can occur multiple times each night but aren’t enough to awaken you completely, but they do prevent you from achieving deep, restful REM sleep that is essential for good health. People with OSA will often feel excessively sleepy during the day, are more likely to have high blood pressure, trouble concentrating or depression.

How OSA Could Affect Your Health

Without treatment, there is the risk OSA could affect your general health. It may cause potential problems which include heart attacks and stroke, diabetes, or morning headaches. A lack of sleep increases the risk of vehicle accidents and can affect everyday performance at work.

How Bel Canto Dental Can Help

If you think you might have OSA or know that you snore, please book a consultation with our dentist. Dr. Mackie is a provider for sleep apnea appliances, and liaises closely with a respiratory therapist at SleepWorks.

If appropriate, Dr. Mackie can refer you to the clinic for a complete sleep apnea assessment. Sleep data is collected during overnight tests conducted in a sleep lab or at home using specialized equipment. The data is thoroughly assessed, determining your risk of developing OSA, and if present, its severity. The information is used to provide you with the most appropriate treatment.

Treating OSA

Mild to moderate OSA can frequently be treated with a custom-made oral appliance. Dr. Mackie will design and fit the device, ensuring it feels comfortable to wear overnight. It works by holding your lower jaw in a slightly forward position, preventing your tongue from flopping backwards and helping your airway to remain open as your muscles relax during sleep. There are several different appliances which can be used, depending on your dental health and the professional assessment of your OSA.

More severe OSA usually must be treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP), which provides a continuous flow of pressurized air to keep the airway open. There are many different CPAP devices available and which are designed to be easy and comfortable to use.

Simple Strategies to Improve Your Sleep Quality

In addition to receiving professional treatment, there are several ways to help improve your sleep quality. Avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, tobacco or caffeinated products before bedtime can help to induce a more restful sleep. Try to maintain a healthy weight and make sure you take regular exercise but avoid exercising too close to bedtime. Ensure your bedroom is the right temperature and is quiet and dark enough for sleep and use a sleep mask and earplugs if necessary.

Sleep is such a basic need, so please don’t put up with undiagnosed and untreated OSA. With the right treatment, you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face each day. If this is an issue you need help with, book an appointment today to see how Bel Canto Dental can help.

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