Sleep Apnea Snoring

If snoring is causing you or your spouse to lose sleep, we can help. As a certified dental sleep medicine professional, our Family Dental Care office now offers diagnosis, evaluation and effective alternative treatments to traditional therapies for patients suffering from sleep disorder problems.

Snoring is not just a nuisance. Physicians now understand that snoring may be a sign of a possible life threatening condition known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

Our Sleep Apnea Test can help you determine if you or your partner will need treatment.

Why Worry About Snoring and Sleep Apnea?

Snoring is so common, it is easy to assume it is only a nuisance and nothing to worry about. However, it can be a health concern.

Snoring is caused by partially restricting the flow of air through the mouth and nose and essentially reducing the amount that reaches the lungs. An overweight patient poses additional risk due to fat deposits in the neck which can reduce the size of the airway. When the flow of air is restricted enough to cause a person’s breathing to be interrupted during sleep, it is called obstructive sleep apnea.

What Are The Effects of Sleep Apnea?

When untreated, sleep apnea can result in health issues such as high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, depression, tiredness and poor performance at work, school or while driving.

What Are The Major Signs and Symptoms?

It can be difficult to identify sleep apnea since it occurs at night while you are asleep. A bed partner can help.

Signs and symptoms include: chronic snoring, choking or gasping for air during sleep, interrupted breathing, daytime sleepiness regardless of how much time you spent in bed. Other related signs and symptoms include moodiness, irritability, restless sleep, headaches in the morning, dry throat in the morning, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating.

Are You At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect people of any age. You have a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea if you are:
  • Male
  • Overweight
  • Over the age of 40
  • A smoker

Sleep Apnea Treatment Alternatives

It is important to see a sleep apnea specialist who can evaluate your symptoms and help determine an effective treatment. There are several possible treatments ranging from behavioral changes to facial surgery or therapy with the help of a device.

For mild cases — Treatment is more conservative and includes: Weight loss for overweight patients, avoiding use of alcohol and sleeping pills, using pillows and other devices to promote sleeping in a side position, use of nasal sprays.

For mild to moderate cases — A dental appliance (known as mandibular advancement devices) can prevent the tongue from blocking the throat or assist with advancing the lower jaw to promote an unobstructed airway. One such device is a custom-fitted SomnoDent MAS, a CPAP alternative, which allows you to breathe easily and continuously. It is discrete and comfortable since it is custom-made for you, and allows you to open and close your mouth normally. Denture wearers are also able to be fitted with the SomnoDent MAS.

Another device, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been the preferred initial treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Patients wear a mask over their nose and mouth and air is forced in to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing. The pressure is constant and continuous. the most common complaints about the CPAP relate to frequent awakenings from mask discomfort, dry mouth or nasal congestion, claustrophobia, or noise emitted by the machine.

For severe cases — Surgery may help some patients with sleep apnea. Often done on an outpatient basis, surgery is performed on those patients with excessive or malformed tissue that can obstruct airflow through the mouth and/or nose. Examples of surgeries include: somnoplasty that tightens the soft palate at the back of the throat; UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) that removes excess soft tissue in the back of the throat and palate; manibular/maxillary advancement surgery where the jaw bone is moved forward to make more room in the back of the throat; and, nasal surgery to correct nasal obstructions such as a deviated septum.

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