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Sleep Apnea Treatment in Hillsboro and Aloha

Do you snore? Do you often feel unrested in the morning? Do you feel fatigued throughout the day or have difficulty concentrating?

You may have a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that causes you to stop breathing while you are sleeping (the word “apnea” literally means “without breath”). It’s estimated that up to 18 million Americans currently have sleep apnea.

The most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring that is frequently interrupted by pauses and then sudden gasping or snorting sounds as the person rouses slightly to begin breathing again. The person’s partner is typically the first to notice this symptom.

Other symptoms that could indicate sleep apnea include:

  • Frequent headaches
  • A fatigued sensation throughout the day
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A sore throat upon waking

Sleep apnea is more common in men. Being overweight and having a large neck circumference are both risk factors. Other risk factors include being over the age of 60, having a family history of sleep apnea, using alcohol before bed, and smoking.

Unfortunately, sleep apnea causes more than just excessive sleepiness and lost productivity. The condition is itself a risk factor for other health conditions including hypertension, heart disease, strokes, and liver problems. The sleepiness throughout the day puts you at risk for car accidents and issues at work or school, and the loud and disruptive snoring can create problems in your relationship.

Treating Sleep Apnea

The first step in treating sleep apnea is diagnosis. Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed by a sleep specialist in an accredited sleep study facility. If you suspect sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your medical doctor and ask for a referral for a sleep study.

If you do in fact have sleep apnea, the first line therapy that most doctors recommend is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. This therapy involves wearing a mask while you sleep. A machine pushes air through the mask and into your airway to keep your airway open and keep you breathing.

While CPAP is a very effective treatment for sleep apnea, about 50% of people being treated for sleep apnea are unable to tolerate this form of therapy. Some people find that they cannot sleep with the mask on. Others find that they (or their partner) are disturbed by the noise of the machine.

Fortunately, other options are available.

How Can a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

In addition to CPAP therapy, oral appliances can also be used to treat sleep apnea. These devices most commonly work by holding the lower jaw slightly forward, which keeps the airway open throughout the night.

At Smith Dental, we offer a number of different custom-made appliances so we can work with you to choose the one that will best fit your needs and treat your condition. We understand that each of our patients is a unique individual, and we are committed to customizing your treatment to you.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are struggling with your CPAP, please call our Aloha or Hillsboro office today to find out how an oral appliance can help.