noun, temporary cessation of breathing, especially during sleep.
Sleep apnea does not just affect your sleep. It affects your breathing, your energy level, your health, and your well-being. It even affects the sleep and well-being of those who live with you and sleep near you. Many people are not aware they have sleep apnea until a sleeping partner or family member complains of the snoring and choking sounds coming from the sufferer. Those who have sleep apnea often stop breathing for a few seconds or more, sometimes minutes at a time. This can happen 30 times or more an hour! When normal breathing starts again, it is often accompanied with a choking or snorting sound. Then the process begins again, hour after hour, night after night. How do you know if you have sleep apnea, especially if no one can hear it?
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Excessive drowsiness during the day,
- The sensation that you never get a good night’s sleep,
- Snoring or choking while sleeping,
- Lack of REM sleep or dreaming.
Sleep apnea is not just an annoyance; it can cause or contribute to health issues such as high blood pressure and heart problems. And while obesity, excessive alcohol use and certain medications can contribute to it, your particular sleep habits or jaw structure can cause it as well. Sleep apnea is a serious health problem, and the professional dentists at the Placerville Dental Group are a great resource to answer your sleep apnea questions and concerns.
Sleep Apnea Explained
Obstructive sleep apnea happens when abnormalities in the shape of your oral air passages cause the soft tissues and tongue to block your breathing airways. This prevents your body from getting the oxygen it needs. Then your brain sends your body a signal to “wake up” and get those blocked air passages open, now! That is when the choking or snorting occurs, as your body is trying to save itself from smothering. Since you’re unconscious, you don’t even know it’s happening. You just wake up from a “full night’s sleep” feeling exhausted and empty.
Testing for sleep apnea involves your dentist and can include your medical doctor too. With resources from our Placerville dentists, you’ll have a sleep test at home or in a sleep lab to see if you are having apnea episodes, (as your family may very well suspect already). If the sleep test shows that you have apnea, a simple dental appliance can help prevent your episodes. Serious cases may be solved with oral surgery on the jaw, changing the position of your tongue while you sleep.
Dental Therapy for Sleep Apnea
You may have heard of a machine that helps people with sleep apnea. Treatment with it is called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The apparatus, which looks like a fighter pilot’s air mask, forces air through the nose during sleep. It is a miracle cure for some patients, but reports show that sixty percent of CPAP users stop using it after a year. This can be due to noise issues, discomfort, annoyance on the part of sleep partners or the inconvenience of traveling with the machine. This is a dangerous decision, since CPAP does not fix the sleep apnea problem, it just alleviates it. Going without CPAP now brings back the extreme fatigue, lack of good sleep and oxygen deprivation.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, the professional staff at the Placerville Dental Group can introduce you to dental devices designed just for you that restore breathing without a machine. Used during sleep, they alter the shape of your mouth and stop your tongue from falling back into your airway. Mark Friedman, DDS and professor of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Southern California states: “For some people, it changes their life instantly. They wake up feeling good and can spend the day not having to sleep. Their spouse will sleep with them again. Their blood pressure goes down and it probably increases their longevity.”
If you are suffering from the effects of sleep apnea, a visit to the Placerville Dental Group will put you on the path to a good night’s sleep, better health, quiet nights for your whole family and more energy for life. Make an appointment now and soon you’ll be breathing easier while you sleep.