Having a good nights sleep is necessary to feel good during the day and for our body to function properly. However, many people suffer from a range of health conditions that can prevent this important process from happening. While the person may just appear to snore, in reality, they are suffering from a very real and very dangerous condition, sleep apnea. If an individual is continuously snoring, that is a red flag warning for sleep apnea. At Hiebert Smith Dental Group, we will find a solution for your sleeping concerns.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is an often-undiagnosed condition affecting millions of Americans. It is a disorder characterized by decreased levels of oxygen to the blood causing unusual pauses in breathing throughout the night. It is not “just snoring” as many people believe. In fact, you don’t snore during an apneic event, because you are not breathing.
Oxygen deprivation during an apneic event only lasts a few seconds, but these events occur many times throughout the night. In addition to your sleep being interrupted. The cumulative result of poor quality sleep and routine oxygen deprivation can wreak havoc on your health.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Like TMD, sleep apnea has been associated with a wide range of, yet often seemingly unrelated, problems including:
- Abrupt awakenings from sleep
- Attention problems
- Awakening with shortness of breath
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Episodes of breathing cessation witnessed by another person
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat
- Waking up with a headache in the morning
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Both Dr. Hiebert and Dr. Smith have extensive experience with sleep apnea. Properly diagnosing the condition involves weighing a combination of symptoms such as fatigue or waking up with a dry mouth and throat, along with input from your partner as to whether he or she often hears loud snoring or choking noises while you sleep.
We’ll have you keep a sleep diary for two weeks. This will include information about what time you went to bed each night, when you woke up in the morning and how many times you woke up each night. From there, we may recommend either a home sleep apnea test or an in-lab overnight sleep test.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
When a person has some resistance to their airflow, he or she will often snore. This is similar to what happens with sleep apnea, but the blockage is more pronounced. Sleep apnea can have many causes; here are some of the more common:
- Cardiovascular problems
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Family history
- Nasal congestion
- Throat and tongue muscles that are overly relaxed
Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Central Sleep Apnea
The two main types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the throat muscles relaxing and blocking the airflow. Central sleep apnea is caused when the brain doesn’t send the signals to the muscles that control breathing, so the person temporarily stops breathing while sleeping.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are several sleep apnea treatments that have proven results and can improve sleep without surgery. Lifestyle changes and sleeping devices are often used before the mention of surgery on a patient. Common devices to enhance sleeping for patients suffering from sleep apnea are:
- ProSomnus Sleep and Snore device
- CPAP machine
- Oral appliance therapy
ProSomnus Sleep and Snore Device
ProSomnus Sleep and Snore is a medical device we offer to treat obstructive sleep apnea. This technology allows individualization and it provides comfort to each patient. These devices are smaller, stronger, and more precise in comparison to prior intraoral sleep apnea devices. They are custom made for a sleek and long lasting finish. Your treatment plan is tailored to you, helping to provide maximum comfort and convenience.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
In traditional medicine, treatment for Sleep Apnea is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). It is a machine which forces air into your lungs via a mask. The air pressure holds your airway open. Although it is largely effective, approximately 60 percent of all patients can’t tolerate the noise, discomfort, and inconvenience.
Oral Appliance Therapy
At Hiebert Smith Dental Group, we provide simple and comfortable oral appliance therapy. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, this technique is the gold standard in the treatment of mild to moderate apnea. We have been using these custom-made appliances to relieve sleep apnea with phenomenal results. The vast majority of patients no longer have any need for CPAP.
What Factors Put You At Risk?
While certain conditions can develop despite being in good health, having unhealthy lifestyle habits can contribute to the development of sleep apnea. This sleeping disorder is commonly passed through genetics. Other factors that put you at risk of developing sleep apnea are:
- Having high blood pressure
- Being overweight
- Snoring loudly at night
What Are the Dangers of Not Treating My Sleep Apnea?
Many people believe snoring and sleep apnea are the same thing, and they believe their snoring is the only problem with this condition. Actually, left untreated, sleep apnea can cause serious health concerns.
- Adult asthma — Those with adult asthma and sleep apnea tend to have more asthma attacks.
- Car accidents — People with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely than normal sleepers to have traffic accidents, and to even fall asleep at the wheel.
- Heart disease — People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and atrial fibrillation.
- High blood pressure — Waking up often during the night stresses your body and your hormone systems kick into gear, raising blood pressure levels.
- Type 2 diabetes — Sleep apnea is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Not getting enough sleep affects the way your body uses insulin.
- Weight gain — Sleep apnea can make your body release more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you crave carbs and sweets.
Schedule A Consultation
If you have questions regarding sleep apnea, the diagnosis, process, or oral sleep appliances, please contact Hiebert Smith Dental Group. Call (503) 397-6144 to schedule a consultation at our St. Helens office.