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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a medical condition affecting as many as 22 million in the United States adults with an estimated 80 percent of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea going undiagnosed. In the Central Pennsylvania area, the team at Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine offers outstanding diagnostic and treatment services. Call the office today to book your visit with Dr. Becky Fox or use the online link below. 


What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common disorder characterized by frequent nighttime breathing disruptions. It often goes undiagnosed and can cause significant problems. Sleep apnea can disrupt your health, get in the way of your daily routines, and negatively affect your performance at school or the workplace. 

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, including children. Both males and females suffer from this disorder, although men are more than twice as likely as women to develop sleep apnea.

There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is called obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the muscles in your throat relax so much during sleep that they obstruct your airway. Your body responds by gasping for air, a process that disrupts your sleep. 

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Snoring is a primary symptom of sleep apnea, although not everyone who snores has the condition. Additional symptoms include:

  • Excessive sleepiness during the daytime
  • Abruptly waking up by choking or gasping
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Waking with a headache
  • Cognitive challenges during the day
  • High blood pressure
  • Waking with a sore throat or dry mouth

Very often, your sleep partner or family members notice the signs of sleep apnea before you. If you’ve been told you snore loudly, gasp for air, or seem restless during sleep, it may be time to see a specialist. 

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

There is no single cause for sleep apnea, but there are conditions that increase your risk level. Any of the following conditions can contribute to the development of sleep apnea.

  • Excess body weight
  • Chronic nasal conditions
  • Narrow airways
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Smoking

Not everyone with these conditions will also suffer from sleep apnea, but understanding what to look for can help you take a proactive stance toward your health. 

How Do Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea?

Your treatment path depends on your overall health and the severity of your sleep apnea. In cases where an underlying medical condition might be to blame, treating that condition is often the first step.

Some men and women respond well to a therapy called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. This involves wearing a mask that directs a steady stream of air into your airway while you sleep.

When CPAP is not an option, or you prefer a different approach, Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine offers oral appliances as a great alternative to CPAP. These devices are worn in your mouth while you sleep, and help keep your airway open. They are noninvasive and nonintrusive, offering a custom fit, and are comfortable to wear. 

In rare cases, surgery is the best way to address sleep apnea. 

If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine online or by phone today to explore treatment options. Dr. Becky Fox has achieved Diplomate status with the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and takes great care to guide her patients through sleep apnea treatment.