Treat Sleep Apnea for a Better Night's Rest

Snoring is annoying, but it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem: sleep apnea. This common sleep disorder can disrupt both you and your loved one’s rest and trigger a cascade of health problems, ranging from daytime fatigue to an increased risk of heart disease. Dr. Kenneth Coffey offers conservative therapies at his Chicago, IL-area practice to alleviate these effects. Often, a simple oral appliance can help you sleep more peacefully throughout the night. 

Why Is Sleep Apnea a Problem?

Sleep apnea is a disorder which causes breathing to stop momentarily throughout the night. These cessations can occur as often as thirty times an hour. The episodes cause sufferers to wake up briefly, so their sleep is interrupted again and again. This lack of quality sleep can lead to a myriad of problems during their waking hours.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three different types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive: The most common form of the condition, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a physical blockage of the airway. In most cases, this obstruction is caused by the tongue or collapsed soft tissue at the back of the throat. Obstructive sleep apnea is often characterized by loud snoring.
    Illustration of sleep apnea vs. normal airway
  • Central: Rather than a physical obstruction, the cause of this form is neurological: the brain fails to send a signal to the muscles that control your breath. Because there is no blockage, though, snoring is an uncommon symptom. 
  • Complex: This form of the condition is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. 

Dentists can only provide intervention for obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea requires the attention of a specialist.

How Can I Tell if I Have Sleep Apnea?

In addition to snoring, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with a number of common symptoms: 

  • Choking, gasping, or snorting during sleep
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Headaches upon waking
  • Dry mouth or sore throat
  • Frequent nighttime visits to the bathroom
  • Depression, irritability, or moodiness
  • Memory impairment 
  • Difficulty focusing

If you report any of these symptoms, Dr. Coffey may refer you to a sleep specialist. The doctor can perform a sleep study or provide you with a home sleep test to confirm the diagnosis. 

What Treatments Are Available?

Once you receive a diagnosis, you can return to our office to discuss available treatment options. 

Oral Appliance Therapy

This simple customized device fits over the teeth and keeps the throat open at night by bringing the jaw forward. It is usually recommended for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. 

CPAP Mask

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, relies on a mask which delivers air to keep the upper airways open. Although it produces the most reliable results, sleeping with a mask can be uncomfortable and patient compliance is relatively low. Sometimes, this option is combined with an oral appliance.

Often, a simple oral appliance can help you sleep more peacefully throughout the night.

In more severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the doctor can refer you to a specialist for the surgical removal of tissue blocking the airway or for repositioning of the jaw. Depending on the specific cause of your sleep apnea, weight loss or treatment for TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder can also alleviate symptoms. 

Restore Your Health

Untreated sleep apnea can have a lasting impact on your health and well-being. If you suspect you may suffer from the condition, call our office at (708) 403-7888 or reach out online to set up a consultation with Dr. Coffey and his team. 

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