By Village Dental –
Sleep apnea is the condition in which a person stops (“apnea”) breathing for more than 10 seconds, many times in a night. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.
Sleep apnea is very common, as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than eighteen million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children.
Yet still, because of the lack of awareness by the public and health care professionals, the vast majority remains undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.
Sleep Apnea Can Be Treated
Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause memory problems, weight gain, impotency, headaches, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and even death! Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The primary indication of sleep apnea is snoring, especially loud and continuous snoring. Of course, not all snorers have sleep apnea, but as both the snoring and the pauses in breathing occur during the night, many people who have sleep apnea are undiagnosed. Another main indication of sleep apnea is a feeling of tiredness during the day, despite a good amount of hours of sleep.
The pauses in your breathing can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur 30 or more times in an hour. Typically, normal breathing starts up again with loud snorts or a choking sound, which alters your sleep pattern and can cause you to wake up or move around. Due to this irregular breathing, you go from a deep sleep to a lighter sleep. This, in turn, results in poor sleep quality and can make you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of tiredness in adults.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, the most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This happens when the soft tissue in a person’s throat collapses or is blocked, resulting in shallow breathing or pauses in breathing.
Another less common type is central sleep apnea. This condition occurs where the part of your brain that controls breathing does not send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. As a result, your efforts to breathe will be for brief periods only and will be interrupted. This condition is more common for people who have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors are not always able to detect the condition during routine office visits. Furthermore, there are no blood tests for the condition. Most people who suffer from sleep apnea don’t even know it because it occurs during sleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to serious health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, weight gain and diabetes.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The main treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are:
1. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
CPAP is the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment, providing a restful night’s sleep, and the only really effective therapy for severe sleep apnea.
Typical Issues with CPAP
CPAP is a treatment that uses a continuous stream of mild air pressure to keep your airway open. A mask is fitted over your nose, or both nose and mouth, with straps to keep the mask in place. There is a tube on the mask that connects to the CPAP machine. Air is blown in through this tube and delivered straight to your mask. While CPAP is considered a safe and painless treatment, there are some who cannot tolerate it. Common problems related to CPAP include:
• Nasal congestion
• Sinus problems
• Mask leaks
• Dry mouth
• Stomach bloating and discomfort
• Mask coming off during sleep
• Mask allergies and skin irritation
Many people find CPAP intolerable or difficult to use night after night for the whole night.
2. Oral Appliance Therapy
Approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as a possible first line of treatment option for mild to moderate sleep apnea sufferers, Oral Appliance Therapy is an excellent option provided by dentists. This can be used as an alternative treatment if the patient is intolerant or can also be used in combination with the CPAP to make the therapy more tolerable. An oral appliance is similar to a mouth guard worn for sports or teeth grinding. It works by moving the lower jaw forward slightly to open the airway during the night. Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear.
3. Weight Loss
Obesity is often a factor in sleep apnea, with the increased weight causing the airway to be impacted by the soft tissues in the throat. Losing weight can help reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.
In some cases, surgery can help by permanently moving the jaw forward to open the airway or by improving the soft tissue anatomy.
5. Sleep Positional Therapy
For some patients, sleeping on their backs can cause sleep apnea. Various methods are used to induce side sleeping. This is generally only a treatment for mild sleep apnea.
Free Sleep Apnea Consultation
In your consultation, we will review your questionnaire results, discuss with you your symptoms and condition, and show you the effectiveness of how Oral Appliance Therapy could reduce your symptoms.
The dentists at Village Dental are trained in dental sleep medicine and are familiar with the various designs of dental sleep appliances. They can determine if Oral Appliance Therapy is right for you and which dental appliance best suits your specific needs.
If you or someone you know suffers from sleep apnea, a dental sleep appliance may be the answer! Call Village Dental today at 352-205-7667 to schedule a free consultation.
352-205-7667 | 352-753-7507
Effective Treatment for Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy
By Village Dental –