So, what’s the big deal about my snoring other than waking up my bed partner and maybe the kids down the hall?
Well, snoring along with gasping, choking or gurgling sounds along with tooth grinding (bruxism) can be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which is a condition where you actually stop breathing in your sleep due to muscles and tissue in the back of the throat collapsing and blocking the airway preventing oxygen from reaching the lungs!
It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults have this condition and 85% of those people have never been diagnosed and don’t even know that they have a serious medical condition.
Why is Obstructive Sleep Apnea a serious problem?
When you are having multiple stops in breathing (apnea) or slow,shallow breathing (hypopnea) events the oxygen in your body decreases to dangerous levels and in response to these events your brain will try to arouse you enough to start breathing again. These constant arousal’s which can be hundreds of times a night in severe cases not only robs your body of the proper rest it needs to function during the day
In addition as your body’s oxygen levels drop your heart rate increases your blood pressure spikes, your hormones go haywire and your metabolism is greatly affected.
Here are just some of the health and social problems related to sleep disordered breathing:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack and Stroke
- Acid Reflux
- Depression and Anxiety
- Excessive sleepiness
- Impaired cognition
- Motor vehicle accidents
If it’s not taken care of, sleep apnea can make these issues worse over time and potentially life threatening!
So, how can my dentist help me with this problem?
Dr Jeffrey Clark has been trained to screen, test and treat for this medical condition and dentist are naturally looking at the opening to your airway. Here at Scottsdale Dental Excellence we screen all of our patients with a simple questionnaire that helps identify potential sufferers and if indicators are high enough a simple Home Sleep Test can be ordered utilizing your medical insurance. A physician who is board certified reviews your results and determines whether you are getting enough oxygen when you sleep.
So, how do you treat this problem?
Traditional, the medical approach has been with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks which unfortunately has a less than 50% compliance rate due to:
- Facial irritations and breakouts
- Inability to sleep on your stomach
- Noises from machine
- Dry mouth and nose
- Frustrating to properly wear
Oral Appliance Therapy which is now the first recommended therapy for treating mild to moderate OSA or as an alternative in cases of severe sleep apnea when a CPAP cannot be tolerated.
Research has shown that oral appliances are an effective treatment for sleep apnea, showing not only significant improvements in oxygen levels, but also have shown significant improvements in physiological and behavioral outcomes.
Benefits of Oral Appliance
- Covered by most medical insurance
- Easy to use and comfortable to wear
- Easy to travel with
- Better sleep
- Improved cognition and feeling more energetic
- High compliance rate
- Less snoring
- Improved sleep of others!
Give us a call today for a complimentary consultation to see if you are at risk for this life threatening problem !