Snoring or gasping for air … these are common signs of sleep apnea. Our culture enjoys poking fun at sleep apnea (“Oh, grandpa snores loud enough to shake the house”), but this problem is no laughing matter. Sleep apnea is a condition that can be life-threatening is left untreated.
Our Kennewick WA dental practice is here to treat sleep apnea and help you achieve a more restful night’s sleep. Today we want to share some of the problems associated with sleep apnea and let you know how you can manage this problem. Grandridge Dental is a full-service dental office with training in every aspect of general dentistry. Call us today at [phone] to book a visit.
Why Sleep Apnea is So Serious
Most people associate sleep apnea with heavy snoring. That’s a symptom of sleep apnea, not the problem. Sleep apnea actually occurs whenever you experience pauses in breathing. There are two forms of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, with obstructive sleep apnea being the most popular. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs whenever soft tissue, usually the tongue, blocks the airway. It’s estimated that about 18 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
People with any form of severe sleep apnea will experience as many as 30 or more pauses in breathing every hour. That means serious sleep apnea can cause you to wake up multiple times throughout the night.
During pauses in breathing, your blood pressure will go up. It’s common for patients with serious sleep apnea to experience regular high blood. This increases a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Even worse, people have died from sleep apnea complications (search Google for the deaths of NFL player Reggie White and actress Carrie Fisher). In addition to snoring or waking up gasping for air, common signs of sleep apnea include:
- Frequent headaches
- Waking up with sore throat
- Waking up feeling exhausted (even after eight hours or more of sleep)
- Constant sleepiness
- Moodiness or irritability
Sleep Apnea Treatment Without a CPAP
If you know about sleep apnea, you might know about the CPAP. It’s a machine that uses a hose and mask to constantly push air into the lungs. This ensures that the patient will not stop breathing throughout the night. The CPAP was created a few decades ago, and it’s still the gold standard of sleep apnea treatment. But the problem is that many patients find the CPAP intolerable. They either hate the mask or can’t get comfortable with the noisy machine.
Studies have shown that the compliance rate for the CPAP is only about 50 percent! That’s a huge problem, because if the patient doesn’t wear the CPAP, it doesn’t work. Now it’s possible that you won’t need a CPAP to treat sleep apnea.
Our Kennewick WA dental office is using a comfortable oral appliance to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The oral appliance is custom to your mouth. It works by moving the lower jaw forward. Don’t worry, this is a gentle manipulation and patients get used to the feeling within a few nights. With the jaw forward, your airway will stay open.
Don’t Let Sleep Apnea Get Worse
Sleep apnea is one of those problems that can get worse if it’s not treated. There are also a few lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sleep apnea. Here are some lifestyle factors that can make your sleep apnea worse:
- Being overweight
- Having a large neck size (This can often be changed with weight management)
- Drinking alcohol (this relaxes the muscles and could cause the airway to collapse)
- Not using sleep apnea treatments (This goes for the CPAP and oral appliance)
Schedule An Appointment Today
Using your sleep apnea treatment will improve your sleep and decrease your risk for several overall health problems. If you’ve struggled with snoring for years or have been told by your bed partner that you snore or frequently gasp for air, give us a call today at [phone] to schedule a consultation. We can quickly assess your problem and design a custom treatment plan.