What is Sleep Apnea?

If you’ve heard this term before, you might associate it with severe snoring. You might also associate someone who has apnea with bears, chainsaws, and motorcycles. Those are all pretty fair comparisons. Many people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea snore chronically and loudly.

Unfortunately, snoring is not all there is to it. The reason behind it is what makes apnea so problematic. The heavy snoring is actually caused by air vibrating over nearly-closed air passages. And yes, that’s every bit as scary as it sounds.

At night, millions of people around the world lay down to sleep with clear, perfectly functional airways. During sleep, however, everything in the body relaxes. For folks with apnea, that includes the muscle tension in the face, neck, and air passages. Jaws drop open. Tongues slide back. Airways collapse in on themselves. (Sometimes all the way.)

When that happens, our brains go into panic mode. They can’t force enough air into our lungs, so they wake us up very abruptly. Almost immediately, the tension returns to our airways, we take in a deep breath, and we fall right back to sleep, usually without even remembering any of this.

This can happen as many as a few hundred times a night!

As you can imagine, waking up that often, even for just a microsecond, makes for poor sleep. These people wake up in the morning thinking they’ve had plenty of rest, and wondering why they’re still so tired.

What Does This Have to Do With Orthodontics?

Proper jaw and tooth alignment is our entire business, and that alignment is everything, when it comes to apnea. In mild and medium apnea cases, if we can keep the jaw in place and the tongue from sliding back while sleeping, most of the battle is over.

No more interrupted rest. No more severe snoring.

There are many different brands, models, and styles of apnea device, but nearly all of them are centered around this idea of jaw alignment. Here at Hi 5, we have the necessary equipment and experience to precisely measure exactly what your ideal alignment is, and how to get it there.

If you suffer from apnea and are interested in learning more about any of these oral devices, please call us. Don’t lose any more sleep over this than you already have.