Sleep apnea is a common condition that literally prevents a person from breathing properly when sleeping.

A full night’s sleep should leave you refreshed and ready to take on your daily responsibilities. When you no longer feel that you see the full benefits of rest, it can point to sleep apnea. This is a condition that causes more than just snoring—over time, it can affect your physical and mental health, alter your mood, and cause hypertension. Managing other health conditions can become more difficult, and that change in your blood pressure makes you more vulnerable to heart disease! Fortunately, NRH Orthodontics provides effective treatment options for those who struggle with this condition, including younger patients whose development can be negatively impacted by difficult nightly breathing.

What Sleep Apnea Treatment Addresses

People who experience obstructive sleep apnea have their rest interrupted many times throughout a typical night. Airway interference from your soft tissues can restrict your airways as your body naturally relaxes during the night. Partial interference can cause you to snore, while full interference can leave you unable to breathe until you awaken and address the restriction. By treating this interference, you can enjoy better rest, which benefits both your physical and mental well-being.

The Benefits To Appliance Therapy

While a CPAP machine can help you rest without sleep apnea troubles, you can struggle to adjust to its use. Oral appliance therapy corrects problems with restricted breathing at night by adjusting your lower jaw’s position. Correcting its position can keep soft tissues in the throat from interfering with your airways, which means you breathe without difficulty and remain at rest. This approach removes the need to adapt to wearing a CPAP mask and rely on a machine to help sustain your airway pressure. We take care to closely evaluate your jaw and oral structures so that the appliance made for you is secure and effective at letting you breathe comfortably.

How Can I Confirm That I Struggle With Sleep Apnea?

Your partner or loved ones can let you know if you snore, but snoring is not always a sign of sleep apnea. How can you tell if you struggle with nightly breathing issues and need treatment? There are certain signs that the problem is present, including:

  • Frequent fatigue, even on days when you should have been well-rested
  • Struggles with your mood and ability to focus
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • More frequent issues with headaches and/or discomfort from a sore throat

There are also risk factors that can help you assess your need for treatment. They include:

  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • A deviated septum
  • Being overweight
  • Regularly drinking alcohol, particularly in the evenings
Girl tired under covers

Important Considerations for Sleep Apnea

Check all that apply. Use this brief questionnaire and checklist to determine if you might be at risk for sleep apnea.

Low Risk

The sooner you seek care for this problem, the sooner you can resolve it and protect yourself against the potentially serious consequences of sleep apnea!

Sleep Apnea Can Affect Children And Teenagers

While snoring and breathing difficulties may be considered a concern for adults, younger patients can experience these troubles as well. Teenagers and younger children can be affected by sleep apnea. If you hear snoring or sounds of labored mouth breathing from your child as they rest, it can point to nightly breathing troubles that can impact their health.

Evidence of labored or irregular breathing can point to sleep apnea. This condition interferes with the rest cycle by forcing the body awake to address airway obstructions. Because they are not seeing the full benefits of sleep, they can experience changes in mood, energy, and focus. This can also interfere with the management of any other health conditions that affect them.

There is another concern when younger people are not breathing properly as they sleep. Children who chronically breathe through the mouth at night are vulnerable to problems with upper and lower jaw growth and development. If they leave their mouth open to breathe while they sleep, the pressure distribution of the lips, cheeks, and tongue on the face and jaws is disrupted. This can affect the normal skeletal and dental growth that should occur over time. Paying attention to the warning signs and acting quickly can prevent the need for more involved care later in life.

A review of your child’s struggles with sleep apnea and mouth breathing can help us determine next steps in treating them. We can recommend further evaluation to find the right way to help them, or we may find it necessary to start with intervention.

Talk To NRH Orthodontics About Sleep Apnea Solutions

For people with untreated sleep apnea, nightly rest can be hard to come by, which means they are vulnerable to fatigue and irritability, a lack of focus, and even physical problems like hypertension. We provide support to patients of all ages who experience difficulties with nighttime breathing. To find out more about how we can help, call NRH Orthodontics in North Richland Hills, TX at (817) 581-8881.

Sleep Apnea FAQs

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Many people with sleep apnea tend to snore but not all those who snore have sleep apnea. Since snoring – especially loud and obstructive snoring – is a common indicator of this sleep disorder, it is important that people who snore loudly be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.

Screening for sleep apnea might include a quick examination of the airways along with answering questions about typical sleep apnea symptoms. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea or are at risk for this condition, your physician or oral healthcare provider might recommend a sleep study. A sleep study involves wearing sensors that monitor vitals like blood pressure and breathing patterns throughout sleep. Data is then collected and if apnea occurs during sleep, it will be detectable for an accurate diagnosis.

What are the health risks associated with sleep apnea?

There are quite a few health risks associated with untreated sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation. Over time, without proper rest, the symptoms of sleep deprivation become more obvious and severe. Severe sleep deprivation causes memory loss, motor coordination problems, a weakened immune system, and reduced organ function.

In addition to the many dangers of sleep deprivation, various scientific studies have found that cardiovascular and pulmonary health problems are linked to the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea. Some research suggests that the irregular breathing patterns caused by sleep apnea negatively affects the cardiovascular system by weakening the heart muscle. Moreover, irregular breathing can affect oxygen levels in one’s blood, which affects all of the body’s many functions. Since there are quite a few health risks associated with sleep apnea in addition to the debilitating effects of sleep deprivation, it is strongly recommended that patients seek treatment for sleep apnea as soon as possible.

Can I have sleep apnea even though I don't snore?

Yes, you can have sleep apnea even if you aren’t one who snores. While snoring commonly accompanies sleep apnea, it is not always the case for all patients. Sleep apnea is caused by airway obstruction. Airway obstruction can be caused by excessive or bulky throat tissue, overdeveloped soft tissue at the back of the mouth, and malocclusions. Even if you don’t snore, it is important to rule out sleep apnea with a consultation or sleep study if you have common symptoms of sleep apnea.

What is oral appliance therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment protocol for obstructive sleep apnea. Appliance therapy is often considered an effective alternative to the need for CPAP machines. Unlike respiratory machinery, oral appliances do not require electricity or bulky components. Instead, patients will wear a custom mouthguard-like appliance that positions the lower mandible forward to increase the diameter of the airway. With an increased diameter, many patients find relief because they can breathe better during rest.

Can sleep apnea go away without treatment?

Sometimes episodes of apnea can occur if one takes certain medications like antihistamines or sedatives and after drinking alcohol. There is a percentage of people with sleep apnea who see relief from their symptoms upon losing weight. For the most part, however, sleep apnea is persistent and does not go away on its own.