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Learn More About Sleep Apnea and Treatment Options

When we think of dentistry, we typically think of dental crowns, teeth whitening, and cleanings. But dentists are often trained to do much more than just that. The team at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry can help you with everything from basic dental exams to sleep apnea treatment. We specialize in a wide range of services, and we’re glad to find the solution for you. Our team is experienced with maskless sleep apnea treatment, as well as an array of other methods. The staff at our Laurel, MD office has the knowledge to listen to your concerns, evaluate your condition, and recommend treatments and lifestyle changes to restore your sleep quality.

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What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to start and stop while you sleep, sometimes disrupting your normal sleep rhythm. Many people with sleep apnea barely realize they have the condition, believing their fatigue is due to overworking or stress. However, sleep apnea is prevalent in adults throughout the United States, and treatment is often necessary.

Understanding the Types of Sleep Apnea

Not all cases of sleep apnea are the same. Most instances of sleep apnea can be split into three categories. While you don’t need to be an expert on the condition before seeking treatment, it’s a good idea to read up on the varieties of sleep apnea. Below, you’ll find the most common types of this condition:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The most common variety of sleep apnea, this condition occurs as the throat relaxes during sleep. Your airways become blocked, resulting in increased snoring.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This condition occurs when the brain does not properly send signals to muscles in the airway that control breathing. While those with central sleep apnea often don’t snore, treatment is still crucial.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea: Complex sleep apnea combines symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea with those of central sleep apnea.

Identify the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea may be difficult to identify on your own, it’s important to watch for certain symptoms. Loud, frequent snoring is often cited as a major warning sign of such a condition. However, snoring by itself is not always an indication of sleep apnea. Other sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Choking or gasping while asleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent headaches in the morning
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Insomnia
  • Waking up in the middle of the night

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

At Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry, we’re proud to offer an array of treatment options. Whether you have obstructive sleep apnea or another variety, our team is here to recommend a solution. The most effective treatment for you will vary based on your circumstances. Here are some examples of treatment strategies you can expect from our professional team:

Sleep Apnea CPAP Machine

Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) is the most common type of sleep apnea machine. Those who need mild sleep apnea treatment can benefit significantly from this method, as can those with more severe cases. Patients wear a mask that covers both the nose and mouth. While sleeping, the machine pumps a stream of air through the mask to your breathing passages. As technology advances, bulky, noisy CPAP machines are becoming a thing of the past. New models are much quieter and more comfortable and often result in immediate relief.

Oral Appliances

We frequently recommend oral appliances for sleep apnea treatment. Devices such as the mandibular advancement device are like a sleep apnea mouthguard. This treatment option works to lower your jaw while you sleep, opening your airway in the process. These devices must be fitted by an experienced dentist and adjusted regularly for best results.

Medication

Some medications might alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. We may prescribe medicines that treat fatigue and drowsiness that comes as a result of sleep apnea. Other patients benefit from nasal decongestants.

Upper Airway Stimulation

Upper airway stimulation (UAS) is often recommended for patients who can’t use a CPAP. This treatment involves a small pulse generator implanted under the skin in the chest. Wires detect breathing patterns in the lungs and send signals to the nerves in the airway. This stimulates the airway muscles, allowing them to open.

Positional Therapy

Sleep apnea snoring may worsen when sleeping on your back. With positional therapy, patients instead learn to sleep on their side. This practice can remove or reduce airway blockages in mild cases of sleep apnea.

Surgery

Severe cases of sleep apnea often require surgery. However, we will recommend a different surgery depending on your circumstances. If your condition is associated with a deviated septum, we may suggest nasal surgery. In other cases, our team may recommend somnoplasty, mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery, or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). The dentists at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry will make sure you understand each of these surgeries and explain the proper preparation and aftercare.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Minimize Sleep Apnea

Some cases of sleep apnea can be minimized or eliminated with lifestyle changes. Working to lose weight can help to open up your throat, and regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. Try to maintain regular sleep hours, as this will help you relax when it’s time for bed. Smoking, caffeine, alcohol, and sleeping pills can all aggravate sleep apnea symptoms, so it’s best to refrain from these or use them in moderation. Some patients also benefit from throat exercises that strengthen the muscles and help keep airways open. Ask our team about specific exercises you can try at home.

Why You Should Seek Treatment as Soon as Possible

Although sleep apnea doesn’t often appear to be severe, untreated, this condition can cause further problems. Sleep apnea typically results in sleep deprivation, which can wreak havoc on your daily life. Many patients are plagued by fatigue during the day, as well as slowed reflexes, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, and depression. Sleep apnea has also been associated with severe physical conditions, including diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and more. However, you don’t have to be subject to these complications. Prompt treatment from Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry can help improve your sleep quality and reduce the risk of the conditions mentioned above.

Reach Out to Us for More Information

If you or a family member is struggling with sleep apnea, seek treatment! You’re not alone, and there are numerous ways an experienced dentist can address your problem. At Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry, we’re dedicated to providing exceptional dental services, including sleep apnea treatment, pediatric dentistry, dental implants, and much more. We want our patients to feel comfortable at our Laurel, MD office, so we foster a welcoming and warm environment. Our knowledgeable staff is always here to answer questions and address concerns. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.