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It's Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a common problem for about 40% of men and 24% of women, and in many cases, it’s little more than a nuisance (especially for your sleep partner). Other times, though, snoring can be a sign of a more serious health problem called sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that interrupts your breathing while you sleep — sometimes hundreds of times during a single night. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, you might not think of seeing your dentist for a solution. But the fact is, sleep apnea often involves your jaws — more specifically, your jaw position while you sleep. 

Katharine Christian, DMD, and the team at The Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center are skilled at providing custom treatment solutions for sleep apnea, based on each patient’s unique needs. Here’s why getting treatment is so important for your health.

Three types of sleep apnea

The word “apnea” comes from the ancient Greek word for breathless, referring to those brief interruptions in breathing that are the hallmark of sleep apnea. There are actually three types of apnea, and while they all cause nighttime breathing problems, the underlying mechanisms are different.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

OSA is by far the most common type of sleep apnea. OSA develops when the tissues in the back of your throat descend downward into your throat when you’re very relaxed. Those tissues wind up blocking your airflow during your sleep.

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea is the second main type of sleep apnea. This form occurs when signaling between your brain and your breathing muscles breaks down during sleep. 

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

This third type is actually a combination of the other two types of apnea. People with this type of apnea show signs of both OSA and central sleep apnea.

Complications of sleep apnea

Not surprisingly, having your breathing interrupted multiple times every night can have some serious consequences for your health. When breathing is interrupted, your brain and other organs don’t get the oxygen they need to function properly. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to myriad problems, including:

Fortunately, many of these issues can be avoided by getting prompt treatment for sleep apnea.

Know the symptoms

Even though sleep apnea interrupts your breathing during sleep, those interruptions can be so brief, many people don’t realize it’s happening. And snoring isn’t always a sign of apnea — allergies, sinus troubles, and having a deviated septum can cause snoring, too. 

As a result, there’s no real way to diagnose apnea on your own. You need to see a doctor for a complete exam and evaluation.

That said, there are some “clues” associated with sleep apnea, and identifying them can help ensure you get treatment as early as possible.

If you’re having any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s time to contact our office and we’ll get you on the path to better sleep.. 

At The Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center, we offer comprehensive care for people with sleep apnea, including custom-fitted oral appliances designed to gently shift your jaw position while you sleep. 

By moving your jaw slightly forward, your airway is “opened up,” decreasing the likelihood that your breathing will be interrupted. Many people find oral appliance therapy far more comfortable and tolerable than other treatments like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

Don’t let sleep apnea take a toll on your health. Call our Seattle, Washington, practice or book an appointment online, and let Dr. Christian design a treatment plan just for you.

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