“I’m Not Getting the Sleep I Need… Is It Sleep Apnea?”
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.
“I’m always nervous going to the dentist and Dr. Chern made me feel so comfortable. She explained everything to me thoroughly and I walked away understanding exactly what’s going on with my teeth. I’m so happy to have found her and look forward to future visits. Thank you Dr. Chern!”– Alicia C.
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 overtime 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.
“Dr. Chern is an outstanding dentist. I went to her a few months ago terrified of dental work and embarrassed by my oral health. After a few appointments where she walked me through each procedure I am on my way to great oral health, and I’m no longer nervous walking in the door. Thank you, Dr. Chern!”– Britney L.
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.
Meet With Dr. Chern &
Our Manhattan Team
To get started on taking the right steps for your health and getting a good night’s sleep, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chern in Manhattan to learn more about your sleep apnea options. Dr. Chern works with each patient personally to learn about their overall health and wellness to create a comprehensive treatment approach. We invite you to contact us by calling or filling out our online form.