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107 S. Prospect Road, Bloomington, IL 61704

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What Is Sleep Apnea?

man sleeping badly

By the time that you suspect you have sleep apnea, you might have been dealing with this common sleep condition for many years. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing at varying intervals during the night, and some people experience dozens of these episodes before they finally wake up to start their day. Since the episodes can be very brief, you might only slightly awaken before you fall back to sleep. Waking up constantly throughout the night can leave you feeling exhausted, even if the episodes are only a few seconds long. Fortunately, you’ve got lots of options to restore your ability to enjoy a deep night of peaceful slumber, and reaching out to our dentist in Bloomington is the perfect way to begin your journey to getting this sleep condition under control!

What Is Happening During an Episode of Sleep Apnea?

As you sleep, your body undergoes several critical processes that keep your primary systems functioning while the rest of your body relaxes. Clearly, being able to breathe is a necessity, but your other body parts relaxing too much can disrupt this essential action. When your body relaxes into deep slumber, the muscles and soft tissues that are close to your airway can relax too much. This causes them to block your airway to the point that no air can pass through. Your body then goes into emergency mode and wake you up to resume your breathing. Once you fall asleep again, those same muscles can fall back into their bad position and so the cycle continues.

Do People With Sleep Apnea Share Common Risk Factors?

Men, women and even children can all develop sleep apnea. In children, the most common risk factor is having oversized tonsils or adenoids, but childhood obesity can also increase a child’s risk. Being overweight is a risk factor for adults as well, and being a male increases your risk by two to three times as much as a female’s. If you are advancing in age, then you could also find yourself facing this diagnosis, and your chances of this happening go up if you have a heart or respiratory disease that impacts your brain functioning or breathing.

Will You Notice Sleep Apnea Symptoms?

If you’ve ever woken up gasping for air, then you may already understand what having sleep apnea can feel like for those who actually become conscious during the episodes. However, some people have mild cases or sleep so deeply that they don’t notice the disrupted breathing. You can look for these symptoms that often pop up during the day that indicate a need to reach out to our dentist in Bloomington to learn more about sleep apnea treatments.

•Excessive snoring

•Breathlessness or coughing after a sudden wake up


•Brain fog or confusion

•Crankiness and mood swings


•Night sweats


Which Type of Sleep Apnea Is the Most Common?

The majority of our patients present with obstructive sleep apnea, which we can do a lot to help with. Obstructions in your airway are often moveable with the right type of treatment. Usually, it is just the soft tissues in your mouth that block your airway to the point that air can’t make its way through.

Central sleep apnea is another type that occurs less frequently in the general population. This type is linked to factors that exist outside of your airway. Your brain doesn’t send the signal to your body to breathe, and this can be caused by different things. Taking sedatives can relax your brain’s communication pathways to the point that your respiratory system loses track of its rhythms. Or, you might have an underlying heart disease that causes chronically low blood oxygen levels that affect your breathing.

What Are the Most Effective Treatments for Sleep Apnea?

Usually, your doctor or dentist will recommend doing some simple things that can have a huge impact on your ability to sleep through the night. Losing weight may take some time, but practicing healthier lifestyle habits makes it possible to reduce the fatty deposits that are known for disrupting air passing through your windpipe. Sleeping on your side can also counteract the effects of gravity that pull your soft tissues deeper into your throat.

A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP, is one of the first lines of defenses that doctors use against disrupted nighttime breathing. If you are prescribed a CPAP, then you’ll put a mask on at night that is attached to a hose and forces air through your windpipe as you sleep. Most people get used to wearing the mask after some time, but there is a learning curve to incorporating the machine into your nightly routine.

Dental appliances are another option that you can use alone or with your CPAP machine. If you’ve ever worn a retainer, then you might be familiar with this type of appliance. Although it isn’t designed to alter the position of your teeth, it fits inside your mouth in a similar manner as a retainer. Once you have it in your mouth, it helps to keep the jaw forward and the tongue towards the front of your mouth where it can’t interfere with your breathing.

If your body doesn’t respond to any of these treatments, then surgery is one final option that can help to eliminate any physical blockages that exist near your windpipe. Usually, this involves removing big tonsils and other routine types of surgery.

What Solution Might a Dentist in Bloomington Offer for Sleep Apnea?

Are you curious how you can stop sleep apnea before it reaches the point that it disrupts your overall wellbeing? We’ve worked with many people to help them find the right dental appliance to prevent obstructive sleep apnea. Reach out to our office today and let your dentist in Bloomington know about your concerns. We’ll meet with you for a consultation that can restore your ability to wake up in the morning with a fresh mind and renewed optimism for getting the most out of life.

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The Foehr Group

107 S. Prospect Road, Bloomington, IL 61704

(309) 740-4241