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Am I Getting Enough Oxygen While I Sleep?

The upper airway muscle tone of patients with sleep apnea tends to narrow and collapses temporarily during sleep. When this happens, your breathing stops and it’s accompanied by a drop in your blood oxygen levels. When your blood oxygen levels decrease during sleep, the blood vessels that run through your lungs constrict, getting smaller in diameter. This makes the blood pressure in your lungs higher, causing pulmonary hypertension, putting added stress on the right side of your heart. Over time, if not corrected, the right side of your heart can become enlarged and less effective at pumping blood.

Having low oxygen levels while you sleep can result in an irregular heart beat and other signs that your heart is not getting the amount of oxygen it needs to function properly. If you experience low blood oxygen levels for extended periods during sleep, over time you can have fluid buildup in your body, which can result in heart failure or stroke. If you’re experiencing restless sleep, waking up with headaches, waking up short of breath or daytime sleepiness, it could be a result of impaired breathing. Night time teeth grinding and clenching can also be a sign of this problem.

Determining if your oxygen levels drop during sleep is relatively easy to find out. Using a device called an oximeter, your healthcare professional can monitor and record your oxygen levels for the entire night. Based on the results, your physician can discuss the options available to you.

If your low blood oxygen levels are determined to be a result of sleep disorders like snoring or obstructive apnea, your dentist can recommend an oral appliance that will open the upper airway through advancement of the mandible and tongue. There are many different dental devices on the market for sleep apnea and your dentist will recommend the one that’s right for you. Two of the most common are the Mandibular Repositioning Appliance that advances your mandible in an outward position and the Tongue Retaining Appliances which hold your tongue in an advanced position.

If you’re experiencing impaired breathing or think you may have low oxygen levels due to sleep apnea, call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to see how we can help.

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