Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. It is characterized by loud snoring and breathing interruptions when sleeping. Sleep apnea results in a lack of quality sleep, which can have negative effects on your overall health and wellness. This disorder affects people of all ages from children to adults.
There are treatment options for sleep apnea, but can you completely cure the condition? Here’s what the current research indicates regarding sleep apnea and a cure.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing for periods of time while you sleep. As your brain registers the lack of oxygen, it rouses you from sleep enough that you can change positions and start breathing again. You may go right back to sleep, but your natural sleep cycle has been interrupted, preventing you from reaching a deep level of sleep that is required to get adequate rest.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
When you lay down to sleep, the soft tissues of your mouth slide back toward your throat and your throat tissues collapse, blocking your airway. Snoring is the sound of the air vibrating the soft tissues, indicating a partial blockage of your airway. Eventually your airway may become completely blocked, preventing you from breathing for seconds at a time until you wake up and move around to clear your airway.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can be treated in a few different ways:
- Oral appliance. A custom mouthpiece can be made for you to wear at night that will reposition your jaw to prevent your tongue and mouth tissues from sliding back and blocking your airway.
- CPAP machine. A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine consists of a mask worn over your mouth and nose that is connected to a machine that provides a constant flow of air into your airway to keep it open.
Some patients find relief from an oral appliance and prefer the compact comfort. Others may find that a CPAP is the only treatment option that works for them.
Cures for Sleep Apnea
The above treatments only resolve the symptoms of sleep apnea, but for some patients there are ways to eliminate the cause of sleep apnea and essentially cure it so that you won’t need further treatment. Possible cures include:
- Orthodontic treatment. Some patients can benefit from orthodontic treatment to change the position of their teeth and the shape of their jaw. In some cases orthodontic treatment can cure sleep apnea.
- Oral surgery. Removal of the tonsils or excess soft tissue from the mouth and throat area can sometimes cure sleep apnea. Jaw surgery to change the shape and position of the jaw may also provide a permanent cure.
- Weight loss. Being overweight can increase your chances of developing sleep apnea. Some patients have cured their sleep apnea with lifestyle changes that allow them to establish a healthier body weight.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
For many patients a sleep apnea diagnosis begins when their spouse or partner notices loud snoring or breathing problems. Snoring alone does not indicate sleep apnea, but it is a common symptom. If you feel tired or lack energy throughout the day, fall asleep easily when sitting down, or wake up with a dry mouth, you may want to have a sleep analysis or an orthodontic evaluation.
Who Should I See If I Think I May Have Sleep Apnea?
Getting diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea can come from a variety of medical specialists. Who you see may be determined by what type of treatment would work best for you. An orthodontic evaluation is a good place to start because orthodontic treatment may provide a permanent cure. Demko Orthodontics can evaluate your teeth and jaw to determine whether or not orthodontic treatment could be beneficial for you.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.