There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is poorly understood, and the causes are unknown, but obstructive sleep apnea is well understood, including its causes.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airway collapses during sleep, cutting off your access to air. Your own tissues are literally choking you. There are many causes for this, including:

  • Airway anatomy–narrow airways are more prone to collapse
  • Airway inflammation–if your airway is irritated, swelling can make it more likely to collapse
  • Obesity–weight gain, especially in the throat, can put additional pressure on the airway, making it more likely to collapse
  • Lifestyle–Diet, sleeping position, and alcohol consumption can all contribute to airway collapse

Most doctors will recommend a machine that pumps air through a mask at night (CPAP) to keep your airway open. Although this can be effective, it’s expensive and has a poor compliance record–less than half of patients are able to follow through on treatment.

For many patients, a holistic approach to sleep apnea treatment works better. An oral appliance that you wear while you sleep keeps your airway open, and minor lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and not consuming alcohol close to bedtime, can attack the root causes of sleep apnea.

To learn how sleep apnea treatment can help you, please contact Brightleaf Cosmetic & Holistic Dentistry in Santa Monica today.