Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Man sleeping in bed and snoring

At McClimans Orthodontics, we strive to be your number one choice when you're looking for an orthodontist in or around Dothan and Enterprise. We're proud to offer a wide variety of orthodontic treatments, such as braces and Invisalign, that won't just give you a straighter smile - it'll give you a healthier smile as well. We care about the health of our patients, which is why we also provide oral appliances and treatments to those who are suffering from sleep apnea.


What Is Sleep Apnea?

The Greek word ‘apnea' actually means "without breath" - which pretty succinctly defines sleep apnea! Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing while sleeping because the air isn't getting into his or her lungs. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. It can occur often too - sometimes up to 50 times in a single hour!

What makes sleep apnea so problematic is that it takes a person out of a deep sleep and into a much lighter sleep. This will cause health problems because the reduced airflow into the lungs will lower the blood-oxygen level. Over time, this can cause more minor problems, such as fatigue and grumpiness, or even major problems, such as stroke and heart failure.


Types and Causes of Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs because of the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. When you're awake, your throat muscles will keep your airway stiff so that air can get into your lungs. However, when you go to sleep, these muscles will relax, causing the throat to narrow. While this is completely normal and it happens to everyone, for a person with sleep apnea, the airway will become partially or fully blocked, preventing proper airflow in and out of the lungs. This is most likely to affect those who are overweight because the extra soft fat tissue in the back of the throat can narrow the inside of the windpipe even more.

Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea (CSA). This occurs because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. This is more likely to occur as a person ages, as later on in life, the brain signals' ability to keep throat muscles stiffer during sleep is limited. This will make it more likely that the throat muscles will collapse.

Loud snorers may find that they have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), which is a serious case of blocked air passages. In these instances, the blockage will prevent any air from getting through, which will repeatedly awaken the person throughout the night. This is the most dangerous type of sleep apnea as it can lead to many severe conditions.Sleep apnea may also be caused because the tongue and the tonsils are large when compared to the opening into the windpipe or because the shape of the head and neck cause a smaller airway size.


Who's Most At Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is more common in people who are:

  • Males
  • Over 40 years old
  • Obese
  • Smokers
  • In a family with a history of sleep apnea
  • With heart disease
  • With high blood pressure

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Unfortunately, many of those who have sleep apnea don't actually know it. Because you won't be aware of it happening while you're asleep, sleep apnea requires a medical diagnosis. However, there are still some signs that show that you may have sleep apnea. These include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Making choking sounds while asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Headaches when waking up

Contact Your Dothan and Enterprise Orthodontist Today!

If you have any further questions about sleep apnea or our braces or Invisalign treatments, please don't hesitate to contact us. If you're interested in scheduling an appointment with your orthodontist, we encourage you to fill out our online appointment request form. We hope to hear from you soon!