Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, we have been trained in spotting signs of sleep apnea in our patients. Testing for this is made as easy as possible and is done in the comfort of your own home. The information we gather from your test is reviewed in detail by a medical doctor and treatment recommendations are given depending on the severity of apnea indicated.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night's sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to:
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
- Sleep on their sides instead of on their backs.
- Oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage.
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)
What can I expect when I see the dentist regarding sleep apnea?
- We start with a complimentary Airway Screening where we review your health history and any possible signs of sleep apnea. We will also measure your airway using an Eccovision Phayngometer and Rhinometer to see if there is any sign of concern.
- If it is indicated that you may be at risk of having sleep apnea, we will then send you home with a Watermark Ares sleep test. This medical-grade device will measure your airflow, snoring, body position, pulse rate, and oxygen levels. The data recorded while you sleep is then downloaded the following day and is analyzed by a board-certified sleep physician. Alternatively, if you have already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder you can bring the information with you and we will discuss the option and work in cooperation with you physician to provide the best care for you.
- We will meet with you a week following you home sleep test to discuss the diagnosis and recommendations made by the board-certified sleep physician.
- If an oral appliance is recommended, we can work with your insurance to determine the predetermination and benefit coverage of an oral appliance. Once treatment is agreed upon, we will scan impressions of your teeth and have the appliance made at a dental laboratory. You will receive your device 2-3 weeks later and will be expected to return yearly for follow-up evaluations. You need to repeat the sleep study at no additional charge to confirm therapeutic elimination of your sleep disorder as soon as possible
What is an Oral Sleep Appliance?
It is an oral appliance designed to treat obstructive sleep apnea and /or snoring and it works in several ways:
- Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, and uvula
- Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
- Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue
Oral Sleep Appliances are:
- Covered by most medical insurances
- A comfortable alternative to the CPAP
- Small, convenient, and easy to travel with
- Prevents snoring - bed partner approved!
- Approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the FDA