Sleep – it’s a basic necessity we need in order to function properly and survive. When we receive an adequate amount of it, we are full of energy, able to process information quickly and concisely, and in an overall better mood. On the other hand, if we do not receive enough sleep, the effects can range from reduced efficiency and productivity, all the way to death. Unfortunately, Dental Sleep Solutions reports 1 in 15 Americans currently suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder caused by irregular breathing. Of these 18 million people, only 10% of OSA sufferers have been medically diagnosed. If you are one of the many American suffering from sleep apnea, or just have problems snoring, you should seek help from a dentistry with dental sleep medicine.
How Obstructive Sleep Apnea Occurs
When we sleep properly, our airways (nose, mouth, throat, and windpipe) remain open, allowing the in-and-out flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout your lungs. When one suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, these airways may narrow or close completely, thus disrupting one’s breathing patterns.
Little to no air flowing to the lungs will cause a decrease in blood oxygen levels, signaling your brain to disrupt your sleep by gasping for air in order to reopen these airways. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, these sleep obstructions can last seconds to minutes, and recur 1 to 100 times per hour.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The most recognizable symptoms of sleep apnea are actually shown when you’re sleeping. Heavy snoring, accompanied by gasping for breath during sleep, is a major indicator that either you or someone you know suffers from sleep apnea. This is why many doctors believe sleep apnea is actually undiagnosed because unless a partner or family member notices your sleeping behavior (witnessed apneas), most people would just assume they didn’t get enough sleep. These symptoms lead to the more common indicators of daytime sleepiness, lack of focus, decreased productivity, feelings of depression, and hypertension. These issues can’t be resolved by a couple cups of coffee, or an earlier bedtime. If you or someone you know shows signs of these symptoms, please seek professional assistance as quickly as possible.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
One of the most common treatments for obstructive sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The problem with these machines are that they are noisy, obstructive, and mostly just uncomfortable. This is why most people that have CPAP machines, don’t actually use them.
Dental Sleep Medicine Treatment for Sleep Apnea: CPAP Machine
Surgery is another option, but results have shown varying side effects and rates of success. An alternative option is dental sleep medicine, which focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy. The oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device, made to wear during your sleep to maintain and open the obstructed airways. The mouthpiece is similar to a sports mouth-guard or a retainer, providing much more comfort than a CPAP machine. And the best part is, they are covered by many medical insurance plans.
Coming this November, Grove Dental Group will begin providing dental sleep medicine for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. For more information, either leave a comment below or contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you!