Have you ever been told that you stop breathing when you are sleeping?
Have you ever woken up suddenly with shortness of breath, gasping or with your heart racing?
Do you feel excessively sleepy during the day?
What is it?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea by definition derives from the Greek word meaning “without breath”. This condition is caused when the airway collapses restricting or completely blocking the flow of air into the lungs while sleeping. People who struggle with sleep apnea may not even be aware that have this condition, however, they are unknowingly being woken up many times – sometimes upwards of 100 times per hour! Episodes of apnea can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes at a time. This makes for very broken up and unrestful sleep.
On top of being physically exhausted by being partially awoken so many times during the night, this lack of oxygen in the bloodstream causing the heart to pump harder and faster and even releases adrenaline to force the body to snap awake to gasp for air. Ongoing sufferers of sleep apnea can develop high blood pressure, heart problems and even stroke.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea, though it can be evident in your teeth. People who suffer from sleep apnea often snore, clench or grind their teeth, and may have sore jaw muscles. In order to make the first step in your diagnosis, you may be referred to your medical doctor for a sleep study. They will have you spend the night in a room hooked up to monitors to track your oxygen levels and sleep habits. If you are found to have apnea, there are a few options to try.
The first choice by medical professionals is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). This is a mask that fits over the face and blows pressurized air into the airway to keep it open. It works the best for treatment, but can be very bulky and hard to wear while trying to sleep. This is where we at Brewer Dental Center can help you. We are now offering sleep apnea oral appliances that hold the lower jaw forward to open the airway. It’s a simple device, small like a mouthguard that is made to fit each individual patient.
If you (or maybe your partner) are having sleep apnea symptoms, don’t wait any longer! It can wreak havoc on the body and should be diagnosed as quickly as possible. Call our office in Boise, Idaho today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Dave! (208) 402-1040