Losing More Than Z’s
Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life threatening sleep disorder that affects
approximately 18 million Americans. Sleep apnea is episodes in which a person
stops breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep. With each episode, the sleeper’s brain briefly wakes up in order to resume breathing, resulting in extremely fragmented and poor-quality sleep. If you or your dentist suspects you suffer from sleep apnea or if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can work closely with your physician to implement and manage a prescribed therapy.
What’s The Difference Between noring and Sleep Apnea?
Unlike mild snoring, individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing completely for 10 seconds or more, typically between 10 and 60 times in a single night. If your partner hears loud snoring punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea.
Why is Sleep Apnea a Concern?
Studies have shown that people with this potentially life-threatening disorder are so fatigued during the day that, when driving, their performance is similar to that of a drunk driver. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to impaired daytime functioning, high blood pressure, heart attack, and even stroke.
How Can Petaluma Dental Group Help?
If your dentist suspects you suffer from sleep apnea, he or she will refer you to a physician, often a sleep medicine specialist. Diagnosis and treatment is based on your medical history, physical examination, and the results of an overnight sleep study. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can work closely with your physician to implement and manage your therapy.
What are the Treatment Options?
If you have mild sleep apnea, initial treatment may include avoiding sleeping on your back, losing weight, or quit smoking. Dental appliances, such as the Thornton Adjustable Positioner® (TAP®), which reposition the lower jaw and the tongue, have been helpful to some patients. If you have severe sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) systems are a commonly prescribed therapy. CPAP delivers air through a small mask that covers the nose, and the constant pressure keeps the airway open, which prevents both snoring and episodes of apnea. For patients who have trouble tolerating CPAP, other treatments, including surgery, can eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.