Sleep apnea refers to interrupted breathing during sleep. There are a number of potential causes, but the most common is the collapse of the tissues in the back of the throat and mild to severe enlargement of the uvula. The uvula is the soft tissue that hangs from the middle of the soft palate. This enlargement blocks the airway, causing pauses or periods of shallow breathing.

These pauses in breathing can be as long as 30 seconds. This leads to a disruption in sleep, which can result in daytime sleepiness. In fact, those with sleep apnea often wake up multiple times throughout the night. This not only prevents them from getting quality rest but also raises their risk for accidents caused by daytime drowsiness.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is most commonly caused by an obstruction or blockage of the airway. This can occur due to several different factors, including:

Genetics - If family members have sleep apnea, you may have a greater chance of developing it.

Overweight and obesity - Excess weight around the neck can cause the airway to become obstructed.

Smoking - Smoking cigarettes can irritate the airway, causing swelling. This can cause the airway to become obstructed.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Dentist in Baton Rouge, LA may recommend getting your condition diagnosed by a sleep specialist. During this test, a small device will monitor your breathing and snoring. If you have a mild case of sleep apnea, you may not snore at all. But you will still experience irregular breathing throughout the night.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the dentist may recommend oral appliances like a mouthguard or a tongue depressor. 

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

If a patient has mild to moderate sleep apnea, they may be able to have it treated with an oral appliance. Worn during sleep, the oral appliance moves the lower jaw into a forward position, keeping the airway open and minimizing the effects of sleep apnea.

There are a few other options for treating sleep apnea. Using a CPAP machine is one prominent treatment. This machine uses air pressure to keep your airways open while you sleep. Another option is to use a splint to help keep your mouth closed while you sleep. You could also try losing weight. This can help cure mild forms of sleep apnea.

To find out more about the dental services we offer at College Family Dentistry, call (225) 926-4640 or schedule a consultation online. You can also visit us at 4616 Concord Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

Location

4616 Concord Ave,
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Office Hours

MON - TUE7:00 am-4:00 pm

WED9:00 am-6:00 pm

THU7:00 am-4:00 pm

FRI7:00 am-2:00 pm

SAT - SUNClosed