Sleep apnea does more than disrupt your sleep: It can have a negative impact on your mood, energy levels, concentration, and overall health. If your partner or roommate has complained about you snoring, snorting, or choking in your sleep, it might be a sign that you’re suffering from sleep apnea. A good dentist can help you figure out why, and find a treatment plan that works.
At Margaret Culotta-Norton, DDS, PC, in Washington, DC, Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc provide diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea sufferers.
Sleep apnea 101
Around 30 million Americans suffer from a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but only one in five has been formally diagnosed. If you have OSA, when you sleep the muscles at the back of your throat relax too much, and the soft tissue around the back of your tongue collapses into the airway.
You can’t suffocate or choke on your tongue, because your brain sends a startle response when it doesn’t get oxygen at a specific time limit. You might not wake up, but your body does — just enough for your muscles to contract and for you to suck in a breath of air.
This happens over and over again all night long, up to 30 times every hour. You might not realize you have OSA; you’re just fatigued all the time, because your body doesn’t get to go into a deep sleep cycle. Most people find out they have OSA because a bed partner gets fed up with their constant snorting and gasping or loud snoring at night.
Sleep apnea and dentistry
While many doctors prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for sleep apnea sufferers, your dentist might have a less invasive option than having to wear a big face mask and have a machine pushing air down your nasal passages to keep your airway open all night long.
Positioning the lower jaw forward usually exerts enough pressure to keep the soft tissue at the back of your throat from collapsing, solving the OSA issue. Dr. Culotta-Norton can order a custom night guard for you that fits perfectly in your mouth all night and keeps your jaw at just the right angle.
Benefits of treating OSA
If you can stop episodes from happening every night, you’ll get better sleep. You won’t feel as fatigued, and you can also lower your risk for certain health conditions like prediabetes. You can also rescue a relationship damaged by loud snoring and welcome your partner back from the couch or the guest room where they retreated in self-defense.
You can schedule an appointment by calling 202-833-1111, or visit the contact page for more information.