Sleep apnea is defined as interruption in regular breathing during sleep. This is a common and serious sleeping disorder that requires intervention to prevent high blood pressure and heart failure, stroke, diabetes, depression, etc. Snoring is common among those with sleep apnea but not everyone who snorers has sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is more common in males older than 40.
There are two main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. This is a more common form and is caused by obstruction of the airway during sleep which is in turn caused by enlargement of the soft tissue of the throat due to obesity, tumors, large tonsils, large tongue, small jaw, etc.
- Central sleep apnea. This type is related to signals sent by the brain to the breathing muscles.
There are multiple treatment options:
- Change your sleeping habits. Do not sleep on your back.
- Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). This is a sleep apnea device that guilds the air through the nasal passages and the air pressure keeps the airway open while sleeping.
- Oral appliances. Oral sleep apnea devices (Oral appliance therapy, mandibular repositioning appliance, mandibular advancement device, mandibular advancement therapy, upper airway device) are designed to hold the lower jaw forward or pull the tongue forward to prevent the airway from collapsing. There are over the counter sleep appliances but those are not as effective as the ones that are custom made for your teeth.
- Surgery. Surgery is recommended by American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, as the last treatment option.