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If someone tells you that you snore loudly or stop breathing while sleeping, you may have sleep apnea. It can be a serious sleep disorder which leaves you feeling excessively tired during the day, and left untreated, it can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
The trouble with sleep apnea is that your breathing is interrupted by an obstruction in your airway, which is why it is called obstructive sleep apnea. Your breathing pauses, causing you to wake gasping for air. You may wake up anywhere from five to thirty or more times an hour, but only for a few seconds so you don’t remember the incidents. Your poor sleep quality leaves you feeling tired the next day, even though you believe you slept all night. If you believe you may need treatment for sleep apnea in Gainesville, please contact us and request an appointment with our dentist.
What Are Some Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms?
Common symptoms of OSA include:
- Loud snoring
- Waking up at night gasping for air
- Making choking noises in your sleep
- Morning headaches
- Waking up with a sore throat every day
- Excessive daytime tiredness
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Decreased libido
Many symptoms, like loud snoring and making choking noises, occur when you are asleep. If there is no one to notice the symptoms, you may be unaware that you have OSA.
What Causes OSA?
There are several sleep apnea causes, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a neck size of 16 inches or more
- Having large tonsils
- Being over age 40
- Being male
- Alcohol or sedative use before bed
- Nasal congestion
The primary cause of OSA is obesity, since fatty deposits put increased pressure on the airway. According to the Obesity Medical Association, about 70 percent of adults who are obese have OSA.
What Options Do I Have for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
If you have mild OSA, characterized by fewer than 15 occurrences of breathing cessation each hour, simple lifestyle changes may be enough to stop OSA symptoms. Losing weight, if you are overweight, is the most important thing you can do. Sleeping on your side, instead of your back, will also help. Avoid alcohol before bedtime and quit smoking. If your OSA is more severe, or lifestyle changes don’t help, please contact us for an appointment. An experienced dentist will evaluate your symptoms and determine if you could benefit from wearing an oral appliance while you sleep.
What Is an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea?
A sleep apnea mouthpiece looks like a sports mouthguard or a retainer you would wear after having braces. It pushes your lower jaw slightly forward to keep your airway open. It’s a custom-made device that also helps with snoring. Don’t confuse a custom device with a cheap, one-size-fits-all anti-snoring device you can buy online. An oral appliance from a dentist is made specifically to help you breathe better at night and relive your OSA symptoms.
How Much Does a Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard Cost?
Since your dentist custom designs your oral appliance to meet your specific needs, the cost varies. You can learn more about your oral appliance cost by calling our dental practice and requesting a consultation.
What Advantages Does Oral Appliance Therapy Offer?
It’s impossible to overstate the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel more alert during the day and you’ll be able to concentrate better. You may find small things less irritating when you don’t feel so tired. Lessening your OSA symptoms will also lower your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, as there is less strain on your cardiovascular system. According to Harvard Health, having untreated OSA can increase your risk of fatal cardiovascular complications.
An oral appliance also has advantages over using a continuous positive airway pressure machine. There’s no mask, which is ideal for people who feel claustrophobic wearing one. CPAP machines need electricity, so they can be inconvenient for individuals who enjoy camping or traveling to foreign countries. It’s also easier to pack an oral appliance as opposed to packing a CPAP machine.
Does Insurance Cover Oral Appliance Therapy?
Check with your dental or health insurance company; many fully or partially cover the OAT cost. Coverage will vary depending on your plan.
If you’re interested in an oral appliance for sleep apnea in Gainesville, please call our office to arrange a consultation with a dentist experienced in treating OSA.