Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing repeatedly stops during their sleep. Those with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing anywhere from a few times to possibly hundreds of times during their sleep. This causes a lack of oxygen to circulate throughout the brain and body.
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. OSA is more common and occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes during sleep, causing a blockage of the airway. Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked during central sleep apnea, but the brain is failing to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Sleep apnea is a chronic disorder that disrupts your sleep every night and is the leading cause of excessive daytime fatigue. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you will often shift from deep sleep to light sleep, causing poor quality of sleep. Additionally, if left untreated, the lack of oxygen your brain and body receives can create negative long-term health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart failure.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that requires treatment. Treatments range from lifestyle changes to medical appliances to surgery. Mild sleep apnea may simply be treated by lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. However, for more serious cases of OSA, therapy by using medical devices may be needed. For moderate to severe sleep apnea, you may benefit from a machine, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), that delivers a continuous flow of air through a mask placed over the nose. Although the CPAP is the most common and dependable method of treating sleep apnea, many find it uncomfortable and difficult to sleep with.
An alternative to the CPAP is to wear an oral appliance that resembles an orthodontic retainer while you sleep. The oral appliance opens your throat by holding the tongue in position or by sliding your jaw forward, which can relieve snoring and mild to moderate OSA.
Howell Goldberg is a world renowned sleep apnea dentist, located in Plantation, Florida, who treats OSA and snoring using non-invasive, state-of-the-art oral appliance therapy that is customized to meet the needs of each individual patient. Dr. Goldberg has been treating sleep apnea and snoring since 1994, and remains up to date on the latest developments in the field in order to provide his patients with the finest possible care.