What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that makes it difficult for your body (while sleeping) to receive oxygen you need to properly function. Without enough oxygen, you will fell drained and sluggish, but since the condition manifest itself at night, most people have no idea they have it.
How does sleep apnea impact my life?
There are many health problems that can arise from untreated sleep apnea. They can include a stroke, high blood pressure, headache, diabetes, mood swings, heart failure, ADHD, and even overall lack of well being. Without enough oxygen, your body will have a difficult time functioning. Besides the health issues, this can translate into not having enough energy to stay awake past dinner falling asleep in your favorite chair, enjoying family functions, enjoying outdoor activities, or falling asleep at the wheel. When you are tired the day to day activities can put you to sleep. Your quality of life will diminish.
What are the two types of sleep apnea?
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) When you have OSA, you have an obstruction of the airway while you sleep. As a result, you will have decreased oxygen levels. Your tongue can also block your airway, making it difficult to breathe clearly while you are sleeping. Therefore, people with OSA will typically snore or sound like they are choking in their sleep. This is one of the signs that your body is trying to move the tongue or clear the airway in order to breathe. Another cause of OSA is having to much fatty tissue in the back of your throat. This is one reason obesity is a risk factor for OSA
- Central Sleep Apnea. In this condition, the brain is responsible for the sleep apnea. By not sending signals to the muscles in charge of breathing, your body will fail to respond as it should. This is not something that can be treated by a dentist, but instead, you will need to see a specialist.
How is sleep apnea treated?
At Breeze Dental, we work directly with sleep specialists to determine if you have sleep apnea. A sleep study may be recommended by the specialist. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea the specialist will determine whether a CPAP machine or an oral appliance (customized appliance that fits snuggly and securely in your mouth) is the best treatment.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Oral Appliance Therapy
Our goal is to manage sleep apnea and snoring for those who are CPAP intolerant or those who do not require CPAP. To help you accomplish this, you will find information to better understand sleep apnea and snoring, along with treatments for these sleep disrupting problems. One of these treatments is the use of a special oral appliance. Dental management with oral appliances just may be the solution you are looking for. We work hand in hand with your physician and your dentist to help alleviate these issues. When appropriate, we may have physical therapists, neurologists, medical sleep specialists, or others join the treatment team in order to provide the most effective treatment possible.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing the soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing up to hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, irritability, fatigue and insomnia are all signs that you could be losing shut-eye to sleep apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be a potentially life threatening condition. It can increase the risk for other serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and impotence.
The traditionally prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It involves sleeping with a face mask connected by tubing to a constantly running machine. Although CPAP is effective, up to half of patients don’t adhere to the treatment. Dentists can provide an alternate sleep solution with oral appliance therapy.
A “Snore-Fire” Way to Hurt Your Relationship
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea that fits easily into your lifestyle. A dental oral appliance looks like a sports mouth guard and is worn only during sleep. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway, preventing sleep apnea and snoring.
Once you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea by a sleep physician, a dentist experienced in dental sleep medicine can make a custom-fitted oral appliance using impressions and models of your teeth. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans. Patients like it because it’s comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable, convenient for travel and easy to clean.
Treating snoring or sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can help you feel like a new person. You will find that your symptoms, and your quality of life, can improve dramatically when you remain committed to your treatment and use it nightly. Custom-fit oral appliances from can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health.
If you have concerns about snoring and sleep apnea, it may be time to make an appointment. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, I can recommend a sleep physician to help get you started on your path to treatment. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I can fit you with an oral appliance. Our team at is ready to answer your questions about obstructive sleep apnea, dental sleep medicine and oral appliance therapy.
Simple Steps for Sound Sleep
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. One of the most common sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnea. It afflicts at least 25 million adults in the United States. Sleep apnea is a serious disease that can cause you to stop breathing up to hundreds of times per night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk for several other health problems, such as high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
Today marks the beginning of Sleep Awareness Week. If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, or think you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea, follow these simple steps to sleep more soundly:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule – Make an effort to go to bed when you are sleepy and wake up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. This consistency helps keep your body’s clock on schedule. Do your best to avoid long naps during the day, especially in the afternoon. Daytime napping can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
- Create the perfect sleep environment – For optimal sleep, your bedroom should be quiet, dark and cool. Turn off the TV and stay away from your smart phone, tablet, laptop or e-reader before bedtime. The bright light from electronic screens can keep you from being able to fall asleep.
- Practice bedtime rituals – Develop a relaxing routine that lets your body know it’s time to wind down for the night. Whether you prefer to take a warm bath or spend time reading, these calming activities will allow your body to shift into sleep mode.
- Consult a sleep physician – If you find that you’re still having trouble feeling rested in the morning, you could have sleep apnea. Make an appointment with a board-certified sleep physician at an accredited sleep center. We can refer you to a great sleep doctor in your area. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will help you decide which treatment option is best for you.
- Schedule a dentist appointment – We work in conjunction with sleep physicians to treat sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is an effective mouth guard-like device that supports your jaw in a forward position to help keep your airway open. Oral appliance therapy has a much higher compliance rate than continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Although CPAP is effective, many patients dislike the machine and mask. Patients often prefer an oral appliance because it is comfortable, quiet and convenient for travel. Call us today at (757) 484-1444 to schedule an appointment.
Healthy sleep habits can improve your quality of life. Following these simple steps can put you on the path to a better night’s sleep!