What is Sleep Apnea and How is Dentistry Involved?
It’s thought that around fifty percent of adults who grind their teeth have airway and breathing issues, and one hundred percent of children under the age of 11 who grind have airway issues. In fact, an estimated 20 million people in the US are affected by sleep apnea — or about 1 in 4 people — but many don’t even realize it. Your dentist is often the first person who notices signs of sleep apnea. People who suffer from an obstructive sleep disorder may have a red throat, mouth-breath, and show signs of tooth wear due to grinding (bruxism). Dentists will often notice these signs during a routine comprehensive exam and can discuss your best options for resolving and preventing sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing stops periodically during the night due to a blockage in your airway or as a result of irregular brain activity. This can cause brief, reoccurring moments of breathlessness during sleep as often as 20-30 times per hour– for 10 seconds or more!. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels. This oxygen desaturation causes systemic problems that can lead to diseases like hypertension, heart disease, depression, ADHD, and other mood and memory problems. People with sleep apnea are often unaware that they are suffering from this condition. Sometimes, the only clues are low energy and drowsiness throughout the day.
Dentists are often the first medical professionals to diagnose and treat sleep apnea in patients, and we can create a comprehensive sleep apnea treatment plan to ensure your health is on the right track. Dr. Inna Chern treats sleep apnea in her Midtown Manhattan dental practice. To learn more about sleep apnea, as well as its causes and treatments, contact Dr. Chern in New York City today.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Loud and obtrusive snoring is usually a good indicator that your body is having trouble getting enough air and breathing during sleep. In fact, some experts say that about one-half of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea.
Feeling excessively tired or groggy throughout the day even when you feel like you slept the whole night can mean that you’re not actually getting the quality sleep you need. This is usually because of a constant, half-wakeful state where your body is aroused in an attempt to get the oxygen it needs.
Sudden waking during the night
If it feels like you’re constantly waking during the night and/or you find yourself gasping, it can mean that your body isn’t getting the air it needs when you’re asleep. Some patients wake up intermittently throughout the night while some others wake as soon as they fall asleep because the body relaxes and the airway collapses.
Serious health problems
Airway issues like sleep apnea or chronic hypopnia are sometimes linked to more serious disease states including heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and brain injury. When you do not get the proper amount of air, the body activates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) subsequently causing an elevation in heart rate, and over time this elevated heart rate overworks the heart when it should be resting and repairing. When you don’t cycle through regular sleep cycles (NREM and REM), the body doesn’t heal and repair itself both physically (NREM) and psychologically (NREM). If you’ve been suffering from other health concerns, it’s important to explore the possibility that sleep apnea might be a culprit.
The Sleep Apnea Treatment Process and What to Expect
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy involves wearing a mask that is connected to a machine that pushes air into the airway throughout the night. Many people find relief from their sleep apnea with a CPAP machine, but it can be disturbing to their partners and family members.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapies involve wearing a mouthguard-like device during sleep to keep the airway open. The appliance, called a Mandibular Advancement Appliance, keeps the jaw in an advanced position. It can be a much quieter and more discreet option than CPAP machines.
Sleep apnea can also be addressed by making certain lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol. Weight loss has been shown to be the most important action you can take for sleep apnea since the excess weight on the chest and neck can make it more difficult for your body to breathe as it needs to. Alcohol causes excess relaxation of the muscles and can exacerbate airway problems. Cigarette smoking worsens swelling in the upper airway which closes off an already weakened airway. Although these steps can be especially helpful for sleep apnea sufferers, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a good approach for every patient in ensuring a good night’s sleep.
A Combination Approach
Your best sleep apnea treatment plan may include more than one of these options for the best results. That’s because Dr. Chern uses an integrative and preventative approach to treating sleep apnea at her Manhattan office.
Sleep Apnea Outcomes
In some cases, sleep apnea will be a life-long condition that will need managing with the right technologies and therapies. In other cases, you can manage your sleep apnea with lifestyle changes like losing weight or adjusting your sleeping position. Dr. Chern can give you the best idea of what your long-term outlook will be.
Sleep Apnea FAQ’s
Are oral appliance for sleep apnea covered by insurance?
Some insurance providers do cover dental sleep apnea appliances often when conventional medical appliances such as CPAP are not tolerated.
Can sleep apnea affect your voice?
Some research shows your voice can be effected after prolonged use of a CPAP which often dries the airway.
Can a dental appliance help sleep apnea?
A Mandibular Advancement Appliance moves the lower jaw forward allowing the tongue to have more space and a larger volume of air to be taken into the pharynx.
Can you aspirate during sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea patients who wear a CPAP do report issues with aspiration after long term use.
Do all snorers have sleep apnea?
All snorers do not necessarily have sleep apnea but snoring is a good indicator of a potential issue which may lead to sleep apnea.
Can dehydration cause sleep apnea?
Dehydration itself can not cause sleep apnea but can make symptoms of apnea worse.
Do Breathe Right strips help with snoring?
For some people, Breathe Right strips can help open nasal passages.
Can losing weight cure sleep apnea?
Losing weight can help with sleep apnea reduction.
Do mouth guards work for sleep apnea?
Mouth guards obstruct airways more. If a patient has sleep apnea, they need a special appliance for apnea.
Does sleep apnea get worse with age?
Sleep apnea does get worse with age and with weight gain.
Does sleep apnea surgery change your voice?
Sleep apnea surgery does not usually effect vocal chords and your voice.
Do night guards work?
Nightguards are excellent at reducing TMJ symptoms and damage from grinding.
What is the latest treatment for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea treatments include mandibular advancement appliances, Cpap and airway surgery.
What is the best way to sleep if you have sleep apnea?
It is best to sleep with a mandibular advancement appliance or CPAP.
What is the best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea?
It is best to speak to your MD or dentist to get a sleep aid such as a mandibular advancement appliance or CPAP.
What is the best position to sleep in if you have sleep apnea?
It is best to sleep on your side if you suffer from sleep apnea.
What happens if sleep apnea is left untreated?
Sleep apnea is correlated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It can shorten life span between 7-10 years.
What are the warning signs of sleep apnea?
Warning signs include snoring, daytime sleepiness and low energy.
What is the best mouthpiece for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea treatments include mandibular advancement appliances ( Somnomed) and CPAP.
Does CPAP machine stop snoring?
A CPAP machine reduces or eliminates snoring.
How can I treat sleep apnea at home without CPAP?
It is not possible to treat sleep apnea at home. Losing weight can help improve sleep apnea symptoms.
How do dentists treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea treatments include mandibular advancement appliances that are made by dentists.
What aggravates sleep apnea?
Weight gain and sleeping on your back aggravate sleep apnea.
What is the best dental device for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea treatments by dentists include mandibular advancement appliances and full mouth rehabilitation treatments.
What are the side effects of using a CPAP machine?
Side effects include sore/dry mouth, bloating in the GI tract, nasal congestion and chest pressure.
Is there an alternative to CPAP for sleep apnea?
Alternatives to a CPAP for sleep apnea treatments include mandibular advancement appliances and airway surgery.
Is there a surgery for sleep apnea?
The surgery for sleep apnea can trim down your soft palate and uvula, remove your tonsils, and reposition some of the muscles of the soft palate. UPPP and other soft palate procedures are the most common type of surgery for sleep apnea.
How effective is surgery for sleep apnea?
Surgery can be very effective but is a very uncomfortable procedure for adults.
How effective is oral appliance for sleep apnea?
Oral appliance therapy is very effective in the management of sleep apnea.
How did I develop sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea develops due to excess weight gain, the aging process and poor anatomical structure that most sufferers are born with.
Does stress cause apnea?
Stress can aggravate sleep apnea but it does not directly cause it.
Does Snore Guard help with sleep apnea?
Snore guard can be helpful in improving airway flow.
Does magnesium help with sleep apnea?
Magnesium helps people sleep better but will not necessarily help the airway issues related to apnea.
Does sleeping sitting up help sleep apnea?
Sleeping sitting up or elevated from the waist up may help keep your airway from collapsing and help sleep apnea symptoms.
What Makes Our Office the Right Fit for Your Dental Needs?
At New York General Dentistry, we take a preventive approach to sleep apnea. Our goal is to help you identify a potential airway issue and take the right steps for diagnosis and prevention as early as possible.
Our modern and comfortable office makes for a relaxing atmosphere so you feel at home while we take care of your dental health. Your comfort is our top priority.
Our goal at New York General Dentistry is to ensure you get the care you need with a comprehensive treatment plan that suits you and your lifestyle. We offer the best in modern technologies and therapies to help you get a good night’s sleep.