Sleep Apnea Treatment

Serving Maple Ridge and Surrounding Areas 

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects your overall health and well-being. It’s characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during your sleep, which is more than just disrupting a good night’s rest. It can lead to serious health risks if left untreated.

Everyone should understand the importance of sleep apnea and have access to the resources needed for diagnosis and treatment. If you think you have sleep apnea or are looking for more information to support a loved one, read on to explore the nature of this condition, its effects, and the sleep apnea treatment options available at Westgate Dental Centre in Maple Ridge.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder when your breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night, and often for a minute or longer. 

In its most common form, obstructive sleep apnea, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. This causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses. When determining if you or a loved one might be dealing with sleep apnea, you must be aware of the common symptoms. Here’s a list of signs to watch for:

  • Loud snoring often noticed by a sleeping partner.
  • Episodes of breathing cessation witnessed by another person.
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath.
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat.
  • Morning headaches.
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia).
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia).
  • Attention problems.
  • Irritability.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea comes in several forms, each with different characteristics and symptoms. Below are explanations for each type:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

According to an article reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD,  OSA is the most common type caused by airway blockage when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses during sleep. Symptoms include: 

  • Loud Snoring
  • Choking or Gasping during Sleep
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent Awakenings 

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

In CSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. Common symptoms are; 

  • Less Pronounced Snoring
  • Episodes of no Breathing
  • Abrupt Awakenings
  • Shortness of Breath  
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Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, it combines both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Gerard Meskill reviewed the article about Complex Sleep Apnea, which explains that it happens when someone with primarily OSA develops CSA while treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device. Symptoms can be a combination of both OSA and CSA.

Causes and Risk Factors

Common Causes

  • Excess Weight

    Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct breathing.
  • Neck Circumference

    A thicker neck may narrow the airway, leading to breathing difficulties.
  • A Narrowed Airway

     This can be inherited or may be due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, especially in children.
  • Use of Alcohol, Sedatives, or Tranquilizers

     These substances relax the muscles in your throat, which can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Smoking

     Smokers are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Nasal Congestion

     Difficulty breathing through the nose due to an anatomical problem or allergies can contribute to sleep apnea.
  • Medical Conditions

    Conditions such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk of sleep apnea.

Risk Factors

  • Lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol use, and sedentary habits can significantly heighten the risk.
  • Genetics play a role, especially in the case of a family history of sleep apnea or inherited traits like a narrow airway.
  • Certain health issues, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory problems, can increase risk.

Risk Factors by Demographics

Demographic

Risk Factors

Gender

Men are generally at higher risk than women for sleep apnea, though the risk for women increases after menopause.

Age Groups

  • Children: Enlarged tonsils or adenoids; 
  • Adults: Lifestyle factors, obesity; 
  • Older Adults: Aging-related physiological changes.

Ethnicity

Certain ethnicities may have differing risk levels due to genetic traits and lifestyle factors.

Family History

Individuals with a family history of sleep apnea have a higher risk.

 

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies:

  • Losing weight if overweight or obese.
  • Regular physical activity.
  • Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills.
  • Changing sleep positions to improve breathing.
  • Avoids smoking.
  • Using nasal decongestants or allergy medications.
  • Maintaining good sleep hygiene.

Breathing Devices

  • A study published in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains that the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea is a CPAP machine which delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep.
  • BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines may be used for those who find it difficult to adapt to using a CPAP.
  • Auto-CPAP machines automatically adjust the pressure throughout the night.

Positional Therapy

A strategy that involves wearing a special device around your waist or back to keep you sleeping on your side.

Surgery Options

  1. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): Removal of tissue from the rear of the mouth and top of the throat.
  2. Maxillomandibular Advancement: The jaw is moved forward from the remaining facial bones to enlarge the space behind the tongue and soft palate.
  3. Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation: A stimulator for the nerve that controls tongue movement to keep the airway open.
  4. Tracheostomy: Creating a new air passageway; typically a last resort.

Use of Oral Appliances

Appliance Type

Purpose

Dental Intervention Focus

Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)

To move the lower jaw forward and keep the airway open.

Custom-fitted by a dentist specializing in sleep apnea.

Tongue Retaining Device

To hold the tongue in place to keep the airway open

Less common than MAD, may be an option for patients who cannot properly use a MAD.

Soft Palate Lifters

To keep the soft palate from collapsing and blocking the airway.

Rarely used but can be an option in specific cases.

Role of Maple Ridge Dentists in Treating Sleep Apnea

Diagnosis

During regular dental check-ups, your dentist can look for signs indicating a risk for mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). They can diagnose sleep apnea by examining oral indicators and discussing your symptoms. They can refer you to a sleep specialist who can complete a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. 

With the proper diagnosis, they can treat sleep apnea with various interventions, including lifestyle modifications, CPAP therapy, or even nasal surgery if structural issues are contributing to sleep apnea. Addressing these issues early can effectively prevent sleep apnea from worsening and ensure better long-term health effects.

Custom-fitted Oral Appliances for OSA

Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, they can provide non-invasive treatment options. They create custom-fitted oral appliances, like Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs), which adjust the lower jaw and tongue position to keep the airway open.

Follow-up Care and Support

Dentists will assess the device’s fit, the oral tissues’ health, and the patient’s symptoms to make any necessary adjustments. They also guide how to care for the oral appliance and maintain oral hygiene.

Living with Sleep Apnea: Practical Tips

Daily Tips for Managing Sleep Apnea:

  • Use your CPAP machine or oral appliance as prescribed.
  • Avoid heavy meals and caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule.
  • Keep your bedroom environment conducive to sleep (cool, dark, and quiet).
  • Elevate the head of your bed slightly to reduce throat obstruction.

Importance of Routine and Sleep Hygiene:

  • Consistent sleep and wake times help regulate your body’s clock.
  • A relaxing bedtime routine can signal your body to wind down.
  • Limiting screen time before bed reduces exposure to blue light, which can disrupt sleep.

Recommendations & Stress Management Techniques

Aspect

Recommendations

Benefits

Diet

– Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. 

– Avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods before bedtime.

– Supports overall health. 

– Reduces the risk of obesity, a major risk factor for sleep apnea.

Exercise

– Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity most days. 

– Include strength training exercises at least twice a week.

– Helps maintain a healthy weight. 

– Improves energy levels and sleep quality.

Stress Management

– Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. 

– Allocate time for hobbies and activities you enjoy.

– Promotes better sleep. 

– Reduces the likelihood of sleep disruptions caused by stress.

Take the First Step Towards Better Sleep

Understanding and managing sleep disorders such as mild sleep apnea, moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and severe obstructive sleep apnea is important for maintaining good health and improving the quality of life. 

In Westgate Dental Centre, we are dedicated to providing you with personalized treatment options and support, including innovative therapies like upper airway stimulation. If you or a loved one is experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, don’t wait to seek help. Reach out to our sleep specialists for a thorough evaluation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The duration of use depends on the individual’s response to treatment and any changes in their sleep apnea condition. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are essential to determine the ongoing need for CPAP therapy.

Yes, children can use CPAP machines if diagnosed with sleep apnea. A pediatric sleep specialist guides the use of CPAP in children and is carefully monitored. The machines and masks are designed to fit children’s smaller faces and bodies, ensuring comfort and proper treatment.

To address dry mouth from CPAP use, try using a CPAP machine with a humidifier, ensuring a proper mask fit, using a chin strap, staying hydrated, and possibly using mouth moisturizers. If these steps don’t help, consult your healthcare provider for advice.

The primary risk factor for OSAS is being overweight and having excess fat around your neck. Other risk factors include family history, anatomical structures that block airways such as enlarged tonsils, allergies or sinus problems, advanced age and tobacco smoking.

Treatment-emergent central sleep apnea is a type of sleep apnea that occurs due to treatment for another form of sleep apnea. This condition can occur when the treatment is not effectively managing the initial sleep apnea symptoms, leading to the development of central sleep apnea.

The treatment for moderate sleep apnea will depend on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and avoiding alcohol, can help improve symptoms.

Several factors can cause sleep apnea symptoms to worsen, including weight gain, aging, and the development of other health conditions. In addition, certain medications and alcohol consumption can also contribute to worsening symptoms.

Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) is a type of therapy that uses a machine to deliver air pressure to the airways, with two different pressure levels during inhalation and exhalation. The air pressure helps to keep the airway open, preventing breathing pauses or obstructions during sleep.

Air pressure alone may not be sufficient to treat sleep apnea, as the condition’s underlying causes can be multifactorial. However, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or BiPAP machine to deliver air pressure to the airways can help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the frequency of breathing disruptions during sleep.

A mask is typically required with air pressure machines such as CPAP or BiPAP during sleep apnea treatment. The mask is worn over the nose, mouth, or both and is connected to the machine by tubing. The mask helps to deliver air pressure to the airways and prevent leaks. Different types of masks are available, including nasal masks, full-face masks, and nasal pillows, to suit different preferences and needs.

The duration of use depends on the individual’s response to treatment and any changes in their sleep apnea condition. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are essential to determine the ongoing need for CPAP therapy.

Yes, children can use CPAP machines if diagnosed with sleep apnea. A pediatric sleep specialist guides the use of CPAP in children and is carefully monitored. The machines and masks are designed to fit children’s smaller faces and bodies, ensuring comfort and proper treatment.

To address dry mouth from CPAP use, try using a CPAP machine with a humidifier, ensuring a proper mask fit, using a chin strap, staying hydrated, and possibly using mouth moisturizers. If these steps don’t help, consult your healthcare provider for advice.

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