We’ve all gotten laughs from watching cartoons and movies that feature humorous characters snoring at a deafening decibel level. When it comes to sleeping next to someone who’s snoring up a storm, however — or if your own thunderous snoring actually awakens you (yep, it’s a thing) — it isn’t so funny anymore.
Did you know that chronic snoring can be the sign of a sleep disorder you shouldn’t ignore and for which you should seek treatment?
Obstructive sleep apnea affects about 30 million people, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), but equally troubling is the fact that only six million are actually being treated for the problem.
The expert and caring team at Expressions in Dentistry is not only experienced in diagnosing this condition — which, when left untreated, can seriously affect your overall health — they’re also committed to creating a treatment plan that’s tailored to your unique situation.
What happens when you have obstructive sleep apnea?
Living with sleep apnea means that when you go to sleep, you’re continually awakened, many times per hour, all night long, because you actually stop breathing for a short time! This fortunately registers with your brain, and you find yourself startled and awake.
Why does it happen? As we know, you’re deeply relaxed when you sleep. Your body slows down to rest, and this is true of the soft tissues at the back of your throat as well. When they relax, however, they block your airway, which causes you to stop breathing for a period of seconds to minutes.
We mentioned that you awaken abruptly and feel breathless, though some people have no idea they have sleep apnea and are suffering through this harmful sleep and wake cycle. All they know is that they’re exhausted!
Symptoms that point to sleep apnea — in addition to intense snoring — include:
- Snoring that’s punctuated with quiet periods, known as apnea episodes
- Snoring that resumes quite loudly when you start breathing again
- Morning headaches
- Daytime fatigue
- Mood issues, from exhaustion-related irritability to depression
- Problems maintaining focus
- Sore or dry throat upon waking
With symptoms like these, a sleep apnea sufferer’s relationships and work productivity can suffer, but those aren’t the only things at risk.
How sleep apnea affects your health
It’s critical to get treated for sleep apnea if you’re diagnosed, because it’s associated with a host of serious health problems:
- Cardiovascular problems, including heart arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems) and heart failure
- Unstable oxygen levels
- Impacts your body’s response to glucose and insulin (which puts you at risk for diabetes)
- Mental health issues, since sleep apnea affects you emotionally and causes stress
- Accidents like car collisions, because of exhaustion
These reasons alone should convince you that you should see your dentist if you have any snoring issues at all.
What are my treatment options if I’m diagnosed with sleep apnea?
Fortunately, when you’re a patient at Expressions in Dentistry, we talk to you about sleep apnea and whether you’re having any symptoms, and we listen to your concerns.
In the past, the only sleep apnea treatment option was a cumbersome machine called a continuous positive airflow (CPAP) machine, which gives you a steady supply of humidified oxygen while you sleep. This stops your throat from drying out and keeps your airway open. However, many find using the CPAP machine inconvenient and seriously uncomfortable.
The Expressions in Dentistry team offers innovative sleep apnea treatments that not only earn rave reviews from our patients, but allow them to avoid the discomfort of a CPAP.
VIVOSⓇ is a nonsurgical treatment that slowly expands the size of your upper jaw, which then alters your airway so that it’s no longer obstructed when you sleep. The treatment involves wearing a device at night, while you sleep, for 12-24 months.
Other significant benefits exist for pediatric patients. These include being an effective preventive strategy if they’ve been found to be at risk for sleep apnea. Unanticipated but additional positive outcomes are easing ADD symptoms and addressing bed-wetting problems. And no matter what your age, VIVOS also addresses the anxiety and depression that often accompany sleep apnea.
The biggest victory is that VIVOS offers you a permanent solution to sleep apnea, with no discomfort or invasive procedures. Your dentist is one of your most important allies if you have sleep apnea.
We also offer something called a mandibular advancement device. Similar to the mouthguards that people use when playing sports, these devices are also worn during sleep, and they gradually push your lower jaw forward. This helps to open your airway and provides relief from breathing problems and other sleep apnea symptoms
Call Expressions in Dentistry’s Folsom office at 916-983-6767 to schedule an appointment to learn more about sleep apnea treatment, or book one online.