Are you experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness?
Does your partner snore loudly every night?
Sleep apnea refers to a condition in which the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses, obstructing the airway of an individual during sleep. Though this phenomenon occurs intermittently and is not acutely life-threatening, repeated episodes can contribute to health issues. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and sleep-disordered breathing are growing health concerns that can have a detrimental impact on your overall health and quality of life.
Your dentist can offer treatment for this condition as well as your general practitioner in mild cases. Treating sleep apnea will improve sleep, reduce associated health risks, and give you back lost energy and focus in your daily routine. Finding the right solution for your sleep apnea can be as simple as visiting the dentist.
Dr. Dechter and Dr. Moy work with patients who have sleep apnea or sleep-disordered breathing. Dechter & Moy Dentistry in Silver Spring addresses mild to moderate symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea using oral appliance therapy.
The CPAP machine is the “gold standard” of Obstructive Sleep Apnea treatment and most doctors recommend it for severe cases. Fortunately, oral appliance therapy is highly effective in patients with milder symptoms or who are intolerant to the CPAP system.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Because sleep apnea presents while an individual is asleep, you may not easily recognize that you have this condition. The partners of these patients might report loud snoring or brief periods of breathing cessation during the night.
If you wake up gasping in the middle of the night or notice grogginess or difficulty concentrating during the day, you might suffer from sleep apnea. You should contact a medical professional if these symptoms seem familiar.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even young children. However, there are certain risk factors that everyone should be aware of and discuss with their dentist. We screen for the common oral signs of sleep apnea during your routine visits and can coordinate further testing with your physician if needed.
Dr. Dechter and Dr. Moy have successfully treated many patients with this disorder. Some even report almost instant results after a few trials.
Common risk factors include:
- Male gender
- Overweight, obese
- Fast weight gain in a short period of time
- Large neck circumference
- Large tonsils
- High blood pressure
- Over the age of 40
If you consider yourself at risk for sleep apnea, schedule a consultation and discuss your concerns with us. We can help determine your need for further diagnosis and treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a sleep disorder could be life-saving. Sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders can cause you to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep! This momentarily deprives vital organs of oxygen. Over time, this impacts your daily life and overall health. The common signs of having a sleep disorder can include:
- Snoring, often loud
- Waking up gasping for air
- Feeling groggy in the morning or sleepy during the day
- Irritability, moodiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry mouth in the morning
What Treatment Can I Find at the Dentist?
Many doctors recommend the use of a CPAP machine which involves a mask worn over the nose or mouth that forces air into your airways as you sleep. Some patients do not tolerate this machine, and patients with mild sleep apnea can talk to their dentist about another treatment option.
For mild sleep apnea cases, a dentist can provide a custom-made oral appliance that a patient will wear overnight. This device will keep your jaw in alignment so that the back of the throat does not collapse and block your airway while you sleep.
How Does Oral Appliance Therapy Work?
The use of an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea can alleviate symptoms and minimize health risks often associated with a sleep disorder. Dr. Dechter and Dr. Moy can create a custom-fit oral appliance that fits only in your mouth. This small device is similar to a mouthguard. It will reposition your jaw to prevent the soft tissues at the back of the throat from collapsing and blocking your airway.
An oral appliance will fit much like a mouthguard, but will allow the wearer to speak and drink fluids while in place. The best part is that you only have to wear it at night, while you sleep. The sleep apnea oral appliance is easy to transport, relatively comfortable, and more discreet than a CPAP machine. Patients who can benefit from an oral appliance are often more compliant with usage.
Are There Risks Using Oral Appliance Therapy?
No, oral appliance therapy is safe and effective for most patients. Our dentists construct oral appliances with your unique smile in mind, so that you can be sure that the device fits securely in your mouth while you sleep. This way, you can sleep comfortably and not have to worry about the appliance slipping out of place during the night.
Oral appliance therapy does not carry health risks, but untreated sleep apnea due to intolerance of the CPAP machine can cause health to deteriorate. Patients with sleep apnea have a higher chance of developing heart problems and cognitive issues due to persisting interrupted breathing and low-quality of sleep.
More Sleep Apnea FAQs
What is the life expectancy of someone with sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can lead to a variety of health issues and drastically reduce life expectancy if not managed properly. Studies show that patients who develop sleep apnea before the age of fifty have a life expectancy between 8 and 18 years.
Fortunately lifestyle changes, treatment, and other interventions can improve the life expectancy of someone with sleep apnea. With proper management, individuals with sleep apnea can expect to enjoy a full and productive life.
How can I fix sleep apnea naturally?
Patients can attempt to treat sleep apnea from home. The best way to stop sleep apnea is to exercise and stay at a healthy weight. If you are overweight, this could be making your sleep apnea much worse. Yoga is a good way to open airways and reduce sleep apnea.
What is the best position to sleep with sleep apnea?
It is best to sleep on your side with sleep apnea. Professionals may recommend that patients sleep on their right side because it increases blood circulation and can reduce snoring.