A restless night’s sleep can lead to more than just fatigue throughout the day. It can diminish your quality of life by causing low energy levels and stress, as well as an increased risk of developing serious conditions like heart disease. Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Drs. K.B. Parkes, Gary Waltemath, and Karen S. Keenan at Iroquois Family Dentistry in Nashville, TN, provide a range of sleep apnea treatments to help you breathe normally through the night. Often, they prescribe a custom oral appliance to adjust your airway as you sleep and alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms.
The Anatomy of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) happens when the soft tissues in the back of the mouth and throat collapse, blocking the airways during sleep and causing hundreds of brief awakenings. In fact, the episodes are so brief that those who suffer from this disorder seldom remember waking. Because of this, many of them blame their fatigue on other causes.
Are you sleeping for eight or more hours per night, yet still wake up feeling exhausted every morning? If so, sleep apnea could be the cause. Although snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, other symptoms include:
- Morning headaches
- Exhaustion during the day
- Choking or gasping sounds during sleep
- Issues staying focused
- Reduced sex drive
Several factors can cause sleep apnea, including:
- Struggling with obesity and high blood pressure
- A short lower jaw
- A narrow airway
- A large neck, tongue, or tonsils
Patients of any age or gender can suffer from sleep apnea, but it is most prevalent in males over 40 years old. Our dentists will carefully examine each patient’s physical characteristics, medical history, and lifestyle to formulate an individualized treatment plan.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Oral appliances are often an effective solution. Our dentists will customize each patient's oral appliance, which is worn nightly. This appliance moves the lower jaw forward, preventing tissue collapse and keeping the airway open during sleep.
Based on your assessment, our dentists may also suggest:
- Lifestyle changes: Patients’ symptoms may be alleviated by adopting a healthier diet, stopping smoking, or starting a regular exercise routine.
- BOTOX® injections: BOTOX® can be injected into the soft palate to reduce snoring (a symptom of sleep apnea).
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines: Worn each night, these devices are made up of a mask, a hose, and a small air pump that provides a continuous flow of air. This keeps the airways open and helps prevent interruptions in breathing.
CPAP machines can be large, noisy, and cumbersome, but oral appliances are crafted for comfort. Our dentists will normally suggest oral appliances before trying CPAP therapy.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suffer from sleep apnea symptoms, your quality of life and your long-term health could be at risk. Our dentists can design customized treatments to help you achieve a restful night's sleep. Call us today at (615) 298-2040 or contact us online anytime to book your consultation.