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What is Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea?

sleep apnea LancasterSleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people in the United States. This sleep disorder essentially robs a patient of deep, rejuvenating rest and has been linked to various chronic health conditions. Not only has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) been linked to cardiovascular disease, this sleep disorder also affects a patient’s cognitive faculties and mood. Many patients with OSA suffer from depression, noticeable fatigue, and memory loss. Once sleep apnea has been diagnosed, our dentist can offer comfortable and effective treatments for this sleep disorder.

OSA involves a cycle of breathing cessation followed by wakefulness hundreds of times during sleep. When soft oral tissues relax during sleep, they block airways causing a sleeper to stop breathing for short periods of time. As a natural response to breathing cessation, the brain sends signals to the body to wake the sleeper slightly so that proper breathing can be reestablished. Because patients are constantly waking throughout the night, they cannot achieve true, restful sleep.

Instead, patients with OSA experience disruption through the various stages of sleep that help repair the body’s tissues and brain function. Furthermore, breathing cessation followed by wakefulness impairs a patient from maintaining a steady heartbeat throughout the night. Untreated sleep apnea can weaken the heart and result in acute sleep deprivation.

Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Persistent headaches, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue, even after a full eight hours of sleep
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Snoring
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Depression

When it comes to treating sleep apnea, patients should first undergo a sleep study. During a sleep study, a patient’s vitals, including breathing patterns, wakefulness, and heart rate are monitored. After diagnosis, a trip to your dentist can help determine the underlying cause of your sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, our team will develop a treatment plan just for you.

To learn more about sleep apnea and your treatment options, contact our office today.

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