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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep lasting anywhere from several seconds to minutes.  They can happen as often as 30 times or more per hour.  Ongoing disrupted breathing causes the brain to send a message to the body, telling it to wake up to restart the breathing process.  People with sleep apnea will partially awake as they struggle to breathe, and this is often accompanied by loud snoring or choking sensations.  Because people with sleep apnea don’t always completely awake during the episodes, they are often unaware they have a sleeping disorder and it can remain undiagnosed.

There are two main types of this disorder; central sleep apnea which occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles, and obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when the soft tissue lying at the back of the patient’s throat collapses into the airway. The tongue then falls towards the back of the throat which tightens the blockage and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs.  Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea can include severe early morning headaches, sleepiness in the daytime, and insomnia. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more prevalent and, fortunately, Dr. Morrison is equipped with the necessary technology and expertise to treat sleep apnea in several different ways.

What does sleep apnea treatment involve?

Dr. Morrison can offer several different treatment options which depend largely on the exact diagnosis and the health of the patient. For example, he may advise the patient to halt some habits that aggravate sleep apnea such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and tranquilizer use.

Sleeping masks were traditionally used to keep the patient’s airways open while they slept, but nowadays there are some less intrusive options. Dental devices that gently move the lower jaw forward are very effective in preventing the tongue from blocking the main air passage. These dental devices are gentle, less obtrusive, and easy to wear.  Dr. Morrison can custom-fit you with a sleep apnea device during a short appointment.

If you feel you may benefit from sleep apnea treatment, contact our practice today.