WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA
Sleep apnea is an increasingly common medical condition where the patient stops breathing while they sleep. In some cases, this only happens from time to time, while for others, it can occur as much as 30 times an hour. This condition has the ability to cause or contribute to numerous other health issues.
One of the biggest problems resulting from sleep apnea is how much it disrupts sleep. Every time the patient stops breathing, the central nervous system notes the lack of oxygen and the change in normal respiratory function, alerting the brain. This pulls the patient out of deep sleep, and possibly wakes them up completely. Those who experience the cessation of breathing frequently during the night may be unable to achieve deep sleep, which then results in feeling drowsy and having low energy levels when awake.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
Because most patients are only awake for a brief moment due to their breathing difficulties, they often do not realize that they are suffering from sleep apnea. Instead, they need to look for other signs that indicate there might be a problem. If you observe any of the following signs, make an appointment with Team Chmura.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a broad category that encompasses three different types of apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and mixed sleep apnea.
OSA is the type of sleep apnea that occurs due to a physical blockage, often the soft tissue in the back of the throat. CSA occurs not due to a physical blockage, but missing signals within the central nervous system that alert the body to breathe. Finally, mixed sleep apnea is when the patient experiences both types of sleep apnea, and is perhaps the most dangerous form to have.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
Some people are more at risk of developing sleep apnea than others. Men develop sleep apnea more often than women do, and it tends to effect those over the age of 40 more than the general population. Other factors that increase the risk of developing sleep apnea include obesity, smoking, drinking, sedative use, and family history. Central sleep apnea is more prevalent in those with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.
The Dangers of Sleep Apnea
There are many risks associated with sleep apnea. Those who suffer from it and go without treatment tend to develop high blood pressure. As a result of this, heart failure and stroke become more likely. The severe fatigue caused by disrupted sleep can also make it difficult to succeed at work and school and may also make it dangerous to complete certain daily tasks, such as driving.
It can also be problematic when being treated for other issues. For example, medications that suppress the central nervous system can cause the patient to quit breathing at all should they also have sleep apnea. And in surgical settings, the combination of sedation and lying flat can make complications more likely.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
The manner in which sleep apnea is treated depends on the severity of the case and the type of apnea the patient is presenting with. At the most basic level, treatment is behavioral. Patients work on weight loss, changing habits such as smoking, or side sleeping instead of sleeping on their backs.
If this alone does not work, oral devices that change the position of the mouth may work. Oral sleep appliance therapy is used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. A custom-designed appliance is made for you and is worn when sleeping. From there, CPAP machines and surgery may be considered.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
In order to formally diagnose sleep apnea, a sleep study must be conducted. We work with a board-certified sleep physician to complete this part of treatment. Legally, sleep apnea can only be treated if an official diagnosis has been made. As such, while we are happy to work with you, the first step after your initial appointment with us will be the sleep study.
If you dream about waking up feeling refreshed rather than feeling like you need to go back to bed, we want to help you. Give us a call or complete our contact form so we can help you live a better life.
ORAL SLEEP APPLIANCE
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health.
About Oral Appliance Therapy
Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
We team with a Board Certified Sleep Physician to maximize treatment quality for our patients that have sleep apnea. This is the only legal way for a dentist or orthodontist to be able to offer treatment solutions for patients that have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. No one but a Board Certified Sleep Doctor can diagnose a patient with Sleep Apnea. If you are getting treatment for sleep apnea from a dental professional without a diagnosis from a sleep doctor, you may want to reconsider who is treating you. We work closely with local sleep doctors creating specific and custom treatment plans that will benefit your health for years to come.
Do you suspect that you have sleep apnea? Ask us how we can offer treatments options so that YOU get quality sleep without having to be on a CPAP!
“Imagine what it would be like to wake up refreshed in the morning, to lose those dark circles that are under your eyes, to not hear your spouse or child wake us gasping for air in the middle of the night? We can help you. When we treat you or your loved one, we treat with Airway Friendly orthodontics in mind. We align your teeth so they are not only beautiful and straight, we do so in a manner that maximizes your airway and helps you breathe better. In our office, orthodontics is much more than straight front teeth. It is about a better life.”