Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is estimated to affect up to 14% of people worldwide, but many cases go undiagnosed. If you or your partner snores persistently through the night, it might be a sign of this common sleep condition. Not only does sleep apnea disturb your rest (and your bed partner), but it can eventually lead to fatigue and other long-term effects. 

At Chapman Smiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman can provide you with several options for treating your sleep apnea.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea 

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the top of your throat go slack and close your airway. As a result, OSA often causes snoring. This snoring can also turn into gasping, snorting, and even choking as the person tries to breathe in their sleep. 

If you’re suffering from OSA, you’ll wake up many times throughout the night, but you might not remember all of these disruptions. If you do wake fully, you might have nocturia, or the frequent need to urinate throughout the night. 

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include: 

  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat 
  • Brain fog, or clouded thoughts
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Irritability 
  • Worsening of ADHD symptoms
  • Mood swings 
  • Decreased libido

If you’re sleeping full nights but wake up tired, monitor yourself for OSA symptoms. Partners who report snoring should also be taken seriously, as snoring and gasping in your sleep are the hallmark symptoms of OSA. 

Long-term effects of sleep apnea 

Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect your sleep and mental wellbeing, it can also wreak havoc on your body. If left untreated, poor sleep and OSA can lead to: 

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke

If you also suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, the breathing problems you experience while asleep can carry over into your waking hours. You might find yourself winded and short of breath after simple activities like climbing stairs or walking across parking lots. 

If you have heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may also experience worsening symptoms if your sleep apnea isn’t treated. 

Finding solutions 

OSA is a relatively common condition, but most people don’t know that their dentist may be the right doctor to treat the issue. Dr. Chapman has plenty of experience dealing with sleep apnea, and offers the following solutions: 

  • Orthodontics, for sleep apnea caused by misaligned teeth 
  • Oral expanders, often used to treat sleep apnea in children 
  • Mandibular advancement splints, oral appliances custom-fitted to keep your airway open by correctly positioning your jaw

Many people find their OSA improves after being fitted with an oral appliance. It can take some time to get used to sleeping with something in your mouth, but most people make the adjustment and experience better sleep. 

To learn more about sleep apnea and improve your sleep, get in touch with the team at Chapman Smiles. You can schedule a consultation by calling 503-336-3269, or request an appointment online

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