Sleep Apnea – Love Family Dental

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Stop snoring and improve your life and health today! We’re here to help.

Snoring is a very common problem. Under diagnosed and frequently dismissed simply as harmless, “Obstructive Sleep Apnea” (OSA) is a very dangerous condition.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Apnea literally means “cessation of breath”. In other words, apnea is when you stop breathing. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is simply when your airway becomes obstructed during sleep, causing you to stop breathing. The human upper airway is surrounded by muscles. The largest of these muscles is the tongue. When we are awake we have tightness, or tonicity, in our upper airway muscles, but during sleep these muscles relax.

As we breathe during sleep, the throat and upper airway muscles relax and may begin to vibrate (this vibration is what causes snoring). Eventually these muscles relax even more and can collapse into the airway, effectively closing your throat and prohibiting air from flowing into your lungs. When you airway collapses and you stop breathing, your body responds as if you are suffocating. Your brain realizes that you are not receiving oxygen from your lungs, and arouses you from deeper stages of sleep (where rest occurs) to a lighter stage of sleep. By moving to a lighter stage of sleep your brain is able to contract your throat and upper airways muscles to open your airway and help you resume breathing. This tightening of your upper airways muscles helps force open your airway and allow air and oxygen to flow into your lungs so you do not suffocate. This cycle of suffocation (apnea) and arousal to breath can happen hundreds of times a night. In most cases you do not fully awake, so you may not even realize this is happening to you every night! Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, mental impairment, cardiovascular problems, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, impotence, acid reflux, and a multitude of other undesirable side effects. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious and progressive condition that can lead to serious health problems and even death if left untreated.

Recent studies have shown that 1 in 4 adults in the United States (31% of all men and 21% of all women over 18) are at “high risk” for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (based on analysis of the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America survey). It is estimated that the American public spends over $3 billion every year on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea! This is a serious health issue affecting millions of Americans.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Prevalence and Health Ramifications

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Syndrome is a life threatening disorder affecting over 18 million Americans. 40% of Americans (2 out of 5) snore and 40% of snorers have OSA with no signs or symptoms of the disease.

Serious repercussions /consequences of untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) include:

  • Increased risk of stroke.
  • Increased high blood pressure.
  • Increased incidence of atrial fibrillation.
  • Increased risk of diabetes.
  • Poor memory and other cognitive impairments.
  • Male impotence and decreased sex drive.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
  • Increase in Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD).
  • Increase in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.

Signs you or someone you love may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Sleep Disordered Breathing:

  • Waking up due to gasping or choking.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Memory loss.
  • Nighttime grinding of teeth.
  • Restless or unrefreshed sleep.
  • Frequent waking during sleep.

How common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

  • 40% of adults over 40 snore
    (approx. 87 million Americans)
  • 9% of men and 4% of women suffer from some form of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
    (approx. 30 million Americans)
  • Less than 10% of OSA sufferers have been diagnosed
    (approximately 3 million Americans)

How can dentists help?

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are both caused by a collapse of the upper airway when the muscles relax during sleep, causing the patient to stop breathing during the night. The largest muscle, and most likely culprit for this problem of airway collapse, is the tongue. The tongue muscle is much larger than most people realize. The tongue is present in the oral cavity (mouth) but it also extends down the throat and beyond throughout most of the length of the collapsible upper airway.

Dental Sleep Solutions® dentists have obtained specialty training in oral appliance therapy, allowing us to fit custom FDA-approved dental devices (sometime called mandibular advancement devices or dental sleep devices) that help control the collapsing of the tongue into the airway, allowing patients to stop snoring and sleep and breath easier throughout the night. A dental sleep device looks similar to a sports mouth guard and can be comfortably worn in the mouth during sleep. The dental devices help prevent snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Oral appliance therapy helps prevent the collapse of the tongue into the airway by moving the jaw forward, allowing air to flow from your mouth into your lungs so you can breathe. Opening the airway decreases snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Most people find these devices much more comfortable than CPAP (the other primary treatment for OSA and snoring) and far less invasive and more predictable than surgery. To learn about alternative methods to treat snoring and sleep apnea click here.

Dental Sleep Solutions® dentists have the specialized knowledge and training to choose and fit an oral appliance that works perfectly for you. Many dentists claim they can provide treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), but only Dental Sleep Solutions® dentists have received the rigorous training necessary to ensure that you are treated properly