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Sleep Apnea Specialist

Richard J. Stuart, DDS

Prosthetic and Implant Dentistry located in Indianapolis, IN

Sleep apnea is a disruptive and potentially dangerous sleep disorder that affects approximately 22 million Americans. At the practice of Richard J. Stuart, DDS, in Indianapolis, Dr. Stuart specializes in prosthetic and cosmetic dentistry, and he expertly treats obstructive sleep apnea disorders with oral appliances. When you have sleep apnea under control, you help reduce your risk of heart conditions, diabetes, and a number of other serious health issues. Call the office today to schedule a consultation, or book online.

Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that prevents you from sleeping soundly each night. There are different types of sleep apnea, including:

Obstructive sleep apnea

If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your airway becomes blocked when your tongue and soft palate collapse against the back of your throat while you sleep. This happens many times a night, and you wake up feeling tired.

Central sleep apnea

With central sleep apnea, your airway isn’t blocked, but your brain fails to signal to your muscles to keep you breathing. As a result, you momentarily stop breathing while you sleep.

Complex sleep apnea

Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

If you have a severe sleep apnea condition, it isn’t unusual to stop breathing hundreds of times each night. As you can imagine, this recurring poor sleep quality has negative effects on your health and wellbeing. It can lead to attention deficit disorders, depression, and it increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and other serious health problems.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Some of the most common signs of sleep apnea include:

  • Chronic snoring
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and depression
  • Memory problems
  • Falling asleep during the day

If you or a family member snores loudly or makes choking sounds during sleep, it could be a sign of the disorder. Most people don’t realize how serious sleep apnea can be if left untreated. Over time, the effects of the disorder are cumulative and can lead to high blood pressure or even heart attacks.

What causes sleep apnea?

Several different factors increase your risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. If you have a small upper airway, or large tongue and tonsils, it could contribute to the problem. Additionally, structural issues, like having a recessed chin, a small jaw, or a large overbite, also increase your risk of experiencing sleep apnea.

Other risk factors for OSA include:

  • A large neck size
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Heredity
  • Being over 40 years old

Certain ethnicities tend to suffer from higher instances of OSA, too, including Hispanics, African-Americans, and Pacific-Islanders.

How does a dentist treat sleep apnea?

After a thorough examination, Dr. Stuart may recommend a leading-edge oral appliance to minimize the symptoms of sleep apnea. This custom-fitted appliance gently repositions your lower jaw during sleep to increase the size of your upper airway. It allows you to breathe more easily and minimizes airway obstructions from the soft tissue and tongue.

A sleep apnea dental appliance is usually more comfortable than using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. Along with lifestyle modifications and a healthier nighttime routine, the dental device can dramatically reduce or even eliminate sleep apnea.

To learn more, call the office to schedule a consultation, or book online.