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 feel like 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
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
The level of apnea is determined by taking a PSG (polysomnogram) which is an overnight study done in a sleep center. At Agnini Family Dental, we offer a home sleep study device that can be easily placed at bedtime in the comfort of your own home and your own bed. It is an uncomplicated device that attaches to your wrist with two finger probes. In the morning it is returned to our office, where the sleep data is downloaded and analyzed. The number of sleep apnea episodes per hour is calculated and gives the doctor a diagnosis that your apnea condition is either: mild, moderate, or severe. Our doctors work closely with an ENT physician to help find a solution that works best for you!
Treatments for snoring and 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, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices such as a mandibular advancement device (MAD) can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, a CPAP machine or surgery may be the best option.
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. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.
To learn more about snoring and sleep apnea, contact our practice and schedule an appointment and consultation. A better night’s sleep starts here!
Sleep Apnea and Snoring Prevention
Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night?
While snoring is a common problem for many people, it can also be a major sign of other complications that can affect your health. It is estimated that more than 80 million people in North America snore while sleeping, which not only affects the quality of sleep that the snoring person gets, but also their loved ones, such as spouses, children, and other family members. Luckily, there is a way to treat chronic snoring.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring can be the result of several factors. Typically, snoring is caused by the relaxing of the muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth, making the airway passage smaller. The decrease in space through the airway makes it harder for each breath to get through, and when it does get through the airway passage, it moves over the soft tissues in the mouth and throat causing a vibration that results in the snoring sound. Other causes of snoring may include:
- Excess body weight
- Alcohol consumption
- Certain sleep aides or sedatives
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
What is a Mandibular Advancement Device?
If you snore at night, then a mandibular advancement device (MAD) may represent a solution and a better night’s sleep! The MAD is a specially designed dental device to be worn at night as it gently helps keep the lower jaw, or mandible, in a forward position, increasing the space between the airway passage, helping you breathe better and get a full, quiet night’s sleep.
MADs are usually small plastic devices worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. They do this by bringing your lower jaw forward and/or by lifting your soft palate. Some devices also stop the tongue from falling back over your windpipe. Your dentist will fit these special appliances to meet your individual condition.
Is a MAD comfortable?
The answer is simple — YES! A mandibular advancement device is made to be comfortable so that you can sleep without even noticing you’re wearing it. It does not prevent you from breathing with your mouth open and will even eliminate snoring for patients with sinus congestion or allergies. You may experience some slight stiffness of the jaw for the first few mornings after wearing the device, however this feeling is only temporary and will go away after waking up and removing the device.