People with apnea can get really sick … because their brain is fighting to stay alive. – Michael Moore, DDS
Sleep apnea and related sleep disorders are a major cause of health problems for millions of Americans. The Journal of the California Dental Association reports, “90 million Americans who have sleep problems are undiagnosed.” Such disorders can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and associated heart disorders, making it a potential killer. The Sacramento Dentistry Group may be able to assist you with your sleep apnea problem.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when abnormalities in the shape of the air passages cause the soft tissues and tongue to block the breathing airways. This prevents your body from getting necessary oxygen. As a result, your brain sends your body signals to “wake up” and open the blocked air passage throughout your sleeping periods. Since they’re unconscious, most patients do not even realize this is happening.
Mild cases might involve apnea episodes every four minutes on average, while severe cases can cause apneas during every minute of “sleep.” Physiological problems, sleeping on the back, obesity and alcohol or tranquilizer consumption have all been connected to sleep apnea.
Testing for sleep apnea involves your dentist and possibly your medical doctor. With the help of our dentists, you will receive sleep testing to determine if you are having apnea episodes — periods when you stop sleeping. This may be done at home or at a sleep center. If testing determines you have a sleeping disorder, further examination may determine that a simple dental appliance can help prevent apneas. Serious cases may be solved with oral surgery on the jaw, changing the orientation of the tongue.
While many patients may be familiar with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, a treatment that forces air through the nasal passages during sleep, reports show that sixty percent of sleep apnea sufferers stop using this treatment after one year. This dangerous decision imperils their long-term health. Nevertheless, dental science has developed convenient appliances that restore free breathing without requiring attachment to machines at night. Internal Medicine News states that such oral appliances are more effective than surgery or over-the-counter-products for solving sleep apnea.
When appropriate, a dental device is specifically designed for your mouth. Only used during sleep, it alters the shape of the oral cavity to prevent the tongue from falling back into the airway. Mark Friedman, DDS and professor of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Southern California states: “For some people, it changes their life instantly. They wake up feeling good and can spend the day not having to sleep. Their spouse will sleep with them again. Their blood pressure goes down and it probably increases their longevity. Dentists have this whole new realm of people to treat.”
Visiting the Sacramento Dentistry Group for solutions to your sleep disorder may be the first step to a good night’s sleep, improved health, better relationships and a sound body. Let our dentists help you with the latest improvements in oral science for sleep apnea.