What Causes Sleep Apnea?

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What Causes Sleep Apnea

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

You’ve heard the term but may be wondering just what causes sleep apnea … and why should you mention it to your dentist?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.” What causes it depends on the type of sleep apnea you have.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form of this condition. It occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax, causing your airway to narrow or even close completely when you breathe in.

Your brain senses that you can’t breathe and wakes you up briefly so that you can reopen your airway. Usually it happens so fast that you don’t even remember waking up. And this can happen 5-30 times or more each hour all through the night.

These other factors also can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Excess weight (fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing)
  • Neck circumference (people with thicker necks sometimes have narrower airways)
  • Narrowed airway (an inherited trait or because of enlarged tonsils or adenoids)
  • Being male (men are 2-3 times more likely to have sleep apnea)
  • Being older (older adults are significantly more likely to have sleep apnea)
  • Family history
  • Using alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers
  • Smoking
  • Nasal congestion
  • Medical conditions, including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, prior stroke, and chronic lung diseases.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is less common and occurs when your brain doesn’t send the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Tell Your Dentist if You’re Experiencing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Your dentist doesn’t treat the brain or how it functions, but we can treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Dental treatments for obstructive sleep apnea include keeping the airway open through the use of custom-made oral appliances. With your airway open, you won’t be waking up constantly throughout the night.

With this treatment, you’ll be able to get the restful sleep you need.

Contact us today to make an appointment with Dr. Lovik Mirzaeian to learn more about how we can help you with your obstructive sleep apnea.