Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea

1 in 3 adults snore.

Just because it is so common, does not mean it’s normal. Snoring may also be indicative of a more serious health problem called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is defined as an interruption in breathing during sleep caused by the tongue and or excessive tissue completely blocking the airway.

Symptoms of OSA include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Choking/gasping during sleep
  • Stopping breathing during sleep
  • Feeling unrefreshed in the morning
  • Heartburn in the morning or at night
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Erectile dysfunction, low libido or sex drive
  • Difficulty concentrating & retaining information

OSA prevents you from taking the amount of oxygen you need. This can lead to serious health consequences including:

Heart Disease

People with untreated sleep apnea are 3 times more likely to have heart disease

Cardiac Arrhythmias

Sleep apnea has been linked to both atrial fibrillation (major risk factor for stroke) and ventricular myocardia (a cause of sudden death)

Hypertension (High blood pressure)

  • 30 – 40 % of Americans with OSA have high blood pressure
  • Approximately 80% of patients that do not respond to hypertension medication have OSA

Increased Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD)

The risk of SCD was twice as high in patients who stopped breathing more than 20 times per hour during sleep.

Sexual Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is twice as common in patients diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Depression & Mood Disorders

People with depression were found to be five times more likely to suffer from sleep disordered breathing. Men and women who said they snored or stopped breathing at least five nights per week were three times more likely to show signs of major depression.

Diabetes

70% of Type II diabetics have OSA

Insomnia

As many as 50% of OSA patients have insomnia and many of these patients also report fatigue, non-restorative sleep and difficulty concentrating.

Cancer

Sleep apnea is more common among cancer patients. Moderate to severe OSA is associated with a 2-5 times higher risk of cancer and a 3-5 times higher risk of dying from cancer.

Stroke

OSA doubles the risk of stroke in men. An estimated 70% of stroke patients have OSA.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea should not be taken lightly. If you believe that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, contact your physician or sleep apnea dentist today.

Treatment Options:

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliances are worn during sleep to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft palate tissues in the back of the throat. This in turn keeps the airway open promoting adequate air intake and helping to provide normal sleep in people who snore and have sleep apnea.

Oral appliances are considered by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to be an appropriate first-line therapy for mild to moderate OSA or an appropriate second- line therapy for patients with severe OSA who cannot tolerate their CPAP.

CPAP

CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) is the most common and standard form of treatment of OSA. The CPAP machine consists of a face or nasal mask that is connected to a pump, providing a positive flow of air into the nasal passages in order to keep the airway open during sleep. CPAP is recommended as the first-line treatment for patients with severe OSA. Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea can usually choose which therapy they would prefer.

Surgery

Surgery may be an effective option for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP or oral appliance therapy. It is up to the surgeon to find the obstruction in the patient’s airway or nasal passage and determine what the best solution.

Other Therapy Attempts

Lifestyle changes including weight loss, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and avoiding sedatives.

Why See a Dentist?

Oral appliances are only FDA approved and available for the treatment of sleep apnea through a qualified dentist. If you have not been tested for sleep apnea, a snoring appliance could stop snoring and possibly make the sleep apnea worse. It could also have adverse effects on your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) causing jaw pain, muscle pain, headaches, etc.

Custom made appliances are also found to be more comfortable than a snoring mouth guard.

Can an Oral Appliance Really Change My Life?

If your oral appliance is properly fitted and adjusted, you should see an improvement in your energy levels, your relationships and overall quality of life. A qualified dentist will follow a treatment plan and certain protocols such as follow-up sleep studies and examinations to ensure your appliance is properly fitted and adjusted to get the maximum benefit from your appliance, while minimizing any potential side effects.