Sleep Apnea & Snoring Therapy
You might be surprised to learn that there is an important connection between sleep problems and dentistry. In fact, the most conservative treatment for certain common sleep problems is the use of a dental appliance.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Q&A
What is snoring?
Sometimes when you are sleeping, your breathing causes air to pass over soft tissues, which makes them vibrate and generate the loud, harsh, raspy sound known as “snoring,” which in turn causes a sharp elbow to the ribs from your annoyed partner.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition wherein a sleeper’s breathing is obstructed and breathing is interrupted for periods of 10 seconds of more. This can happen dozens or hundreds of times during the night. These incidents can awaken the sleeper, but often so briefly that in the morning the sleeper does not even remember constantly awakening.
How are snoring and sleep apnea related?
Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea generally snore. Snoring alone is not enough to indicate sleep apnea however, as plenty of people without sleep apnea snore.
Both snoring and sleep apnea are caused by obstructions in an air passageway causing breathing problems while asleep.
Why are snoring and sleep apnea a problem?
Snoring in and of itself isn’t a health issue. The noise can be a problem for anyone within earshot of the snorer, but snoring is not a problem for the snorer.
On the other hand, sleep apnea is a very important health issue. It can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. By causing the sleeper to frequently awaken throughout the night, it robs the sufferer of good quality sleep. Sleep deprivation like that makes a person drowsy and less fully functional during the day—think of the dangers of driving when you’re practically nodding off at the wheel, for instance—and leads to problems like irritability, inability to focus, and forgetfulness.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
As noted, snoring is one symptom of sleep apnea. If you feel surprisingly fatigued during the day even after you think you got a full night’s sleep, that too can be a sign of sleep apnea. So can waking up suddenly, with a sensation of choking or gasping for air.
Sleep apnea is more common among men than women. Being overweight is a major risk factor.
But the best way to find out if you have sleep apnea is to be diagnosed by a medical professional. If you think you even might have sleep apnea, it’s important to have it checked out. In spite of its major health implications, it is estimated that 80% of people who suffer from sleep apnea are never diagnosed.
What can Dr. Nguyen do for my sleep apnea?
The first thing she’ll do is make sure if it’s sleep apnea we’re facing by sending you to a sleep lab for a sleep study.
If it is determined that you do indeed suffer from sleep apnea, the simplest, most conservative treatment option is for her to fit you with a special dental appliance called a “sleepguard” or “snoreguard.” The purpose of this device is to hold your lower jaw forward while you sleep, so as to keep the soft tissues in the back of your mouth from collapsing and blocking the airflow.
What if a snoreguard doesn’t work?
A snoreguard is not the only solution. It’s often the best thing to try first, but if it isn’t providing the intended benefit, a patient may need to try a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, or surgery.
I snore. Do I just call and make an appointment with Dr. Nguyen?
If you snore or have other sleep problems that you suspect might be due to sleep apnea, be sure to bring it up at your next check-up. Or you don’t have to wait if your next check-up isn’t coming up soon; just gives us a call and we’ll schedule you for a consultation right away.
Sleep apnea is a serious health problem, but it is treatable. If you are consistently tired during the day or have other symptoms consistent with sleep apnea, don’t ignore it. Please give us a call so we can arrange for you to have an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
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