Almost everyone does it. That quick breath check before an important conversation, interview or date. Has your breath been smelling extra strong lately? It may seem like a quick fix to pop a mint or stick of gum into your mouth and consider it dealt with, but did you know that bad breath may be…
Tonsillectomies and the Sleep Apnea Connection
Sleep apnea affects millions of people worldwide. Though there can be various causes, tonsils could be a significant culprit. If you believe your tonsils are blocking your airway while you sleep, it may be time to talk to someone about it. Your dentist can discuss removing them so you can have a good night’s rest again.
An explanation of sleep apnea
It is not unusual for a cold or other nasal congestion to interfere with effective breathing. Normally, these issues go away with time. However, if other factors cause someone to breathe erratically, the person could have sleep apnea. This occurs when, while sleeping, a person stops and starts breathing repeatedly. The stoppage could be as short as a few seconds but as long as a few minutes.
Sleep apnea happens because something is restricting the airflow in a person’s airway. It may be because the tongue has fallen back into the throat. Or, it could be that some tissue in the throat is blocking air.
The problems it can cause
Sleep apnea can make it difficult for the person to get a good night’s rest. This could make the person feel exhausted throughout the day and find it challenging to stay awake. People with this condition may be irritable and lack focus. Eventually, this disorder can affect the cardiovascular system and lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
A CPAP machine is perhaps the first line of defense against sleep apnea. This device consists of a mask connected to a tube that sends a continuous supply of air into the person’s mouth and nose. The pressure is strong so that it keeps the airway open. If this is ineffective, the patient’s dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard or tongue depressor. In more serious cases, the dentist can surgically remove tissue or do a tonsillectomy.
Reasons to do a tonsillectomy
This procedure is common among younger patients who often get strep throat. It can also improve a person’s breathing abilities at night. Enlarged tonsils may get in the way of air coming into and out of the person’s mouth. By removing these tissue masses, there is more room and a wider airway.
Determining who is a candidate
Removing tonsils is not often the first choice for treating sleep apnea. Patients who are not finding the results they want should visit with the dentist and share their concerns. The dentist can examine the patient and evaluate whether it makes sense to do a tonsillectomy. The dentist will explain the process to the patient so that both parties are comfortable with the procedure. It is often an outpatient surgery, meaning the patient should be able to return home the same day.
Finding relief in the right way
CPAP machines and mouthguards can be effective methods for improving the symptoms of sleep apnea. These strategies do not work for everyone, however. If you need some more help, talk to your dentist about removing your tonsils. This intervention could clear your airway enough so you can once again breathe well while you sleep at night.
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