What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, increases your heart rate, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing.
Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t remember it, and many feel like they are getting a good night’s sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
At Drew Dental we screen every patient who wants to join our dental family.
During sleep you should mainly breathe through your nose. This allows the air to be of better quality and you will actually get more oxygen, which can lead to a better and more restful night’s sleep.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the sign of a breathing problem. It occurs when the jaw opens and the tongue falls into the back or the throat causing the airway to narrow and forcing air through the smaller opening. This creates sound vibrations in the throat known as snoring. Snoring can seriously affect your quality of life. It can be embarrassing and inconvenient, and can cause problems in relationships. In some cases, snoring is a red flag for a more serious medical problem called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is when the airway is completely blocked and air is unable to flow through the airway. This is also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The obstruction may occur from the area of the soft palate to below the base of the tongue, causing one to awaken during the night with coughing or a gasping sound, attempting to restore breathing
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
There are three categories of sleep apnea:
1. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat.
2. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don’t receive the proper signal from the brain.
3. Some people suffer from “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.
4. UARS- Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. This condition lies midway between benign snoring and true Obstructive Sleep Apnea. People with UARS suffer many of the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea but sleep testing results lack evidence demonstrating true apneas or oxygen desaturation. Call us today and we can help you have better sleep if you are suffering from upper airway resistance syndrome, or Obstructive Sleep Apnea and are CPAP intolerant.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
When sleep apnea is not managed early, the lack of healthy rest can cause a massive variety of serious problems and diseases. These long-term symptoms range from strokes and heart attack to high blood pressure and depression. By catching sleep apnea early and beginning treatment, you can avoid the long-term problems associated with the disorder.
The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving. Sleep apnea can cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight if overweight, stop smoking if a smoker, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs to prevent the tongue from blocking their airway. Myofunctional Therapy are exercises to strengthen muscles of tongue, soft palate, head and neck to help keep the airway open. At Drew Dental we will go over these exercises with you or can refer you to a local Myofunctional Therapist.
Oral Appliance Therapy can be used to prevent the tongue from dropping back and blocking the airway. If you have Sleep Apnea and are snuggling with a CPAP, Dr. Drew can make a custom appliances, specific to your mouth.
Oral appliances are the devices worn in the mouth while sleeping that reposition the lower jaw and tongue to help open the airway. This is accomplished by tensing the muscles that support the airway, which in turn opens or dilates the airway so air can freely move in and out without resistance or obstruction.
Advantages of these appliances:
- Posterior support to protect the TMJs
- Ability to manage teeth grinding
- Freedom of jaw movement with use
- Easily modified to accommodate dental work
- Does not lock or hold the jaw in a set position
- Helps keep the airway open by preventing the jaw and tongue from falling back during sleep
- Improves nasal breathing
CPAP is a device prescribed by your sleep medical doctor. After a sleep study, one of the first treatments many patients try is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. It works by wearing a mask connected to the CPAP machine that provides a constant flow of air that opens your throat, preventing the soft tissue from clasping and triggering an apnea event. While CPAP is one of the most popular options available, there are other solutions for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
While the CPAP mask has become the quintessential treatment for sleep apnea, it can be uncomfortable for some patients. If you’ve been prescribed a CPAP and you find that it is difficult to wear throughout the night, you are not alone.
This is an extremely common issue for patients. The great news is that there are a variety of CPAP alternatives that comfortably and effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea. Ask Dr. Drew about if a custom Oral Appliance will work for you.
In more severe cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, surgery may be an option.
Most Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
- Lack of Energy
- High Blood Pressure
- Headaches: Migraine, Cluster, Dull Morning headaches
- Anterior Tooth Wear
- Acid Reflux
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Social Problems
- Memory Problems – Alzheimers/Dimentia
- Dental Problems including clenching, grinding at night causing abfractions and tooth wear
- Using the restroom during the night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Wake with dry mouth, needing to drink water at night
- Problems paying attention
- Many abrupt awakenings
- Irritability or fatigue throughout the day
- Using sleep medications or sleep supplements
- Falling asleep while reading, watching TV or driving
- Poor Sleep
- Cardiovascular disease
- Wake from sleep coughing, choking or gasping
- Wake up with heart racing
Disorders associated with Snoring/Sleep Apnea:
- Mood Swings
- Grinding of the teeth
- Depression or anxiety
- Gastric Reflux
- Heart Attack/Stroke
What should I do if I suspect that someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?
Contact our practice, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you.
Sleep Apnea Tests and Diagnosis
Sleep apnea is too dangerous to leave untested. Don’t wait for it to damage your heart before you come in for a diagnosis. Many people may suspect sleep apnea after a few nights of insomnia or an increase in snoring. While those are both symptoms, they could be symptoms of other sleeping disorders as well.
Since sleep apnea has so many associated causes, tests are used to accurately diagnose it. The standard sleep test involves a night in the sleep clinic that measure your vitals. However, home tests are becoming the method of choice for patients and doctors alike. Whichever test you use for a sleep apnea diagnosis, know that it’s the first crucial step to treating the disorder.
Drew Dental is able to provide Medical Insurance Billing.
Call Drew Dental today for a Consultation 831-688-6060.