Questions about Sleep Apnea

Serving Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

Obstructive apnea is one of the most well-known and potentially dangerous sleep breathing disorders. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that approximately 22 million people in the United States have the disorder. Are you one of them? Maybe a friend or family member has been diagnosed with sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea or are experiencing symptoms of the disorder, equip yourself with information you need to make educated decisions about your care. TMJ and Airway Associates of Nashville compiled this list of answers to frequently asked questions about sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

question about sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder, which is any condition where breathing becomes hindered or completely interrupted during sleep. When someone has sleep apnea, they experience a blockage in their airway. This blockage may be partial or totally disrupt the flow of air.

What causes airway blockages?

They usually happen due to a collapse of soft tissues into the airway when the throat muscles relax. Sleep apnea also might result from the tongue not having enough room in the mouth, and sliding back into the airway when sleeping. Chronic allergies, a deviated septum, or enlarged soft tissue such as adenoids and tonsils may block the airway.

What happens to someone with sleep apnea?

Clinicians refer to airway blockages as an “apneic event.” Every time one of these events occurs, breathing becomes labored or totally ceases. Oxygen levels drop, eventually rousing the brain from sleep. The brain then sends signals to the body to resume normal breathing.

When an apneic event occurs, a sleep apnea patient may never be consciously aware they are waking up. However, the brain and body still are jolted out of the sleep cycle. This means spending less time in deep sleep. REM, the deepest stage of sleep, restores your mind and body.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Loud, frequent snoring is one of the prime indicators of sleep apnea

Other symptoms include:

  • Choking or gasping for air while asleep
  • Noticeable pauses in breathing while asleep
  • Restless sleep, or frequent tossing and turning
  • Poor performance at work and/or school
  • Always feeling tired, no matter how early you go to bed
  • Otherwise unexplained mood swings or irritability
  • Loss of sex drive and/or impotence
  • Weight gain
  • Memory problems or lapses in judgment

Why is sleep apnea treatment needed?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. It will not go away on its own. Ignoring it is the worst choice you can make. You need treatment from a qualified medical professional to get relief. Untreated sleep apnea only gets worse as time passes.

Living with sleep apnea also elevates your risk of several chronic, possibly life-threatening ailments, such as:

  • High blood pressure
    Stroke
  • Cardiac disease
  • Certain cancers
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Cognitive decline or dementia

Am I at risk for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect people of any age, even children, although certain risk factors make a person susceptible to developing a sleep-breathing disorder. Sleep apnea is more common among men than women, and being overweight increases your susceptibility. Other influencing factors include high blood pressure and smoking.

How can TMJ and Airway Associates of Nashville help?

To treat your sleep apnea in Nashville, you need to seek out a medical professional who is trained in airway management. Our airway dentists have expertise in this area. They provide sleep apnea screenings, and then provide relief through a personalized program of treatment. An airway dentist has studied the structures of the mouth and throat and how they interact.

How do we treat sleep apnea?

Our Nashville airway dentist Dr. Brian Devine tackles sleep apnea by treating the root cause of the problem—the airway obstruction that is the culprit behind those apneic events. First, Dr. Devine performs an airway assessment to determine if there is a blockage. Next, he collaborates with your medical doctor to compose a treatment plan.

We prefer to treat sleep apnea through a course of oral appliance therapy. This entails supplying the patient with a unique oral appliance that has been customized from impressions of their teeth and mouth to ensure a snug, effective, and comfortable fit. This oral appliance pushes the lower jaw forward gently, helping maintain an open airway throughout the night.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Nashville

If sleep apnea affects you or someone you love, or you notice any combination of the symptoms listed above, let Dr. Devine help. Call the office of TMJ and Airway Associates of Nashville at (615) 329-1854 to schedule a sleep apnea screening.

TMJ and Airway Associates of Nashville serve Middle Tennessee, including Nashville, Belle Meade, and Green Hills.