November 29, 2020
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep conditions, affecting millions of people in America alone. This occurs when your throat or tongue muscles relax so much that they partially or fully block your airway, making it difficult to breathe. This interrupted breathing also leads to restlessness, drowsiness, as well as many other life changing symptoms, which leaves you wondering, “Will this ever go away?” Read on to find out the answer!
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Difficulty breathing during sleep can occur for various reasons, including a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates (long narrow passages that warm and moisten air) in the nose, big tonsils, large tongue, and more. Additionally, you may be at a higher risk of sleep apnea if you are obese, have a thicker neck circumference, or family history of breathing issues. Plus, sleeping on your back may allow your tongue to fall into your airway, and the use of alcohol before sleep makes the airway muscles more collapsible. For most, it’s usually a combination of 2 or more of these factors that lead to serious sleep apnea symptoms.
Will Your Sleep Apnea Ever Go Away?
For the most part, sleep apnea is a chronic condition that does not go away. Because sleep apnea is often due to anatomy, it’s possible for some children to grow out of it. However, adults and teens who have gone through puberty will need to turn to treatment options in order to manage their symptoms. In some cases, surgery can be performed to eliminate sleep apnea. In fact, one surgery, known as jaw advancement, resolves sleep apnea in upwards of 80% of people.
Changing Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Thankfully, there are some steps you can take, apart from surgery, to mitigate your sleep apnea symptoms, sometimes helping them disappear altogether. For many, exercise (and the weight loss it causes) can reduce the severity of sleep apnea. Additionally, keeping the nasal passages open with medication like Nasonex and Flonase can be beneficial for your quality of sleep. Plus, it’s always a good idea to avoid poor lifestyle habits like excessive consumption of alcohol, especially close to bedtime.
There also is sleep apnea treatment that doesn’t involve surgery. While it may never eliminate your condition completely, a comfortable and easy to use oral appliance made by your dentist will allow you to count sheep and get the rest you deserve. This works by shifting your jaw and/or tongue into a position that clears your airway for easy breathing.
Your sleep apnea may be here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it rule your life! Remember these tips for minimizing your risk factors and contact your dentist to get effective treatment.
About the Practice
Dr. Kent Smith is an experienced dentist who combines his knowledge and training with Dr. Marie Nguyen Dibra, who is a Board-Certified sleep physician. Together, they provide high quality treatments for sleep apnea, snoring, teeth grinding, and more. If you have any questions, they can be contacted through their website or by phone at either of their Irving or Frisco locations.