Tired All The Time? You May Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Unless you have a partner who notices your snoring, you may not realize you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when a person's upper airway partially collapses and causes them to stop breathing.

OSA can be mild, with about five episodes per hour, or severe, with thirty to forty episodes per hour. Besides snoring, sleep apnea can cause you to have daytime fatigue, headaches, weight fluctuations, insomnia, and nightmares. Read on to learn more about this condition and how to fix it.

What Do People Try First?

Some people try continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices at night. CPAP devices are machines that are connected to a breathing mask or nasal cannula. The devices deliver a steady stream of air so that a patient's airways don't collapse. While these devices help some patients, their masks can be uncomfortable to wear and difficult to get used to. CPAP machines can also be pricey, so unless you have the right insurance policy, this may not be a viable solution.

How Could a Dentist Help?

If a CPAP machine doesn't seem right for you, you should reach out to your dentist. He or she can fit you with a sleep apnea appliance. For instance, some dentists can fit you with a tongue retaining device. Some people's OSA is caused when their tongue falls back into their soft palate. A tongue retaining device is a mouthguard-like appliance that actually suctions the tongue so that this issue doesn't happen.

Besides a retaining device, your dentist could fit you with a mandibular repositioning device. This appliance also looks like a mouthguard, except it moves your lower jaw forward. Again, this subtle change will help to keep your soft palate and uvula from relaxing too much and causing obstruction.

Some people's mouths fall open when they sleep, so their sleep apnea worsens. If you tend to have a dry mouth in the morning, be sure to use a chinstrap on your lower jaw. A chinstrap along with one of these dental appliances could really make a difference, and they are much more affordable than a CPAP.

It's best to go to a dentist first to try these devices. He or she can take impressions of your teeth to get a perfect fit, so they will be more effective than over-the-counter options. If oral appliances don't feel good or still aren't helping, consult with your dentist about surgery. He or she can help you decide if you should see a surgeon about removing excess tissue in the oral cavity.