The Dangers of Ignoring Sleep Apnea

That raspy, guttural sound you make when you’re sleeping isn’t just irritating to your partner and anyone else in the vicinity who’s trying to catch some zzzs. Snoring is often the first noticeable symptom of a potentially life-threatening condition called sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you don’t just snore; you actually stop breathing multiple times a night.

What is sleep apnea?

An apnea is a pause in your breathing. If you have sleep apnea, you may stop breathing for anywhere from a second or two to several seconds, dozens or even hundreds of times a night. With each apnea, your body and brain are robbed of the essential oxygen you need to nourish and replenish your cells.

You may not realize you have sleep apnea or even that you snore. Often, a partner or family member is the first one to notice your snoring and potential sleep apnea. Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:

The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea and occurs when soft tissues in your mouth or neck shut off your airway. A less common type of sleep apnea  — central sleep apnea — occurs when your brain fails to remind your lungs to breathe while you sleep. If you snore, expert dentist Haidy Messih, DDS, evaluates you for sleep apnea at Loudoun Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Leesburg, Virginia.

Why you need to treat sleep apnea

Because sleep apnea robs your body and all of its organs of oxygen, it increases your risk for potentially life-threatening conditions. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to:

If we determine that you have central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea — which is a combination of obstructive and central types — we recommend you to a sleep clinic. However, if you have obstructive sleep apnea, we can treat you right on the premises.

Treating obstructive sleep apnea is easy

In the past, the only way to treat obstructive sleep apnea was with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)  or automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) masks. However, these devices are cumbersome and have a low compliance rate.

Instead, we offer a custom-designed oral appliance that repositions your jaw so that your airway is no longer obstructed by soft tissues, such as your tongue. The oral appliance looks like an athletic mouthguard, but you wear it while you sleep.  

We fit you for your oral appliance by taking physical and 3D impressions of your teeth and jaws. Within weeks, a special lab custom-crafts a device that prevents your tongue and other soft tissues from shutting off your airway while you sleep. Not only does the oral appliance stop you from snoring, but you’ll also sleep better and awaken more refreshed because you’ve been able to get the oxygen and restorative rest that your body needs.

To find out if your snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, call us today at 703-659-2805 or book a sleep apnea consultation online

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