Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
As a member of the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, we have been trained in spotting signs of sleep apnea in our patients. Testing for this is made as easy as possible and is done in the comfort of your own home. The information we gather from your test is reviewed in detail by a medical doctor and treatment recommendations are given depending on the severity of apnea indicated.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night's sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to:
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
- Sleep on their sides instead of on their backs.
- Oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage.
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)
What can I expect when I see the dentist regarding possible apnea treatment?
Take home our Embletta Level III home sleeping test. It is a small, portable device that measures airflow, snoring, body position, pulse rate and oxygen levels. The data recorded during your sleep is then downloaded to a computer the next day. This data is analyzed by a board certified sleep physician. Alternatively, if you have already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder you can bing the information with you and we will discuss the options and work in cooperation with you physician to provide the best care for you
A few days after your take-home test, we will meet with you to discuss the diagnosis and recommendations made by the board certified sleep physician.
The oral sleep appliance requires impressions of your teeth and is custom fabricated in a dental laboratory. You will recieve your device 2-3 weeks later and will be expected to return yearly for a follow up evaluation. You need to repeat the sleep study with the device in your mouth to confirm therapeutic elimination of your sleep disorder as soon as possible.
What is an Oral Sleep Appliance?
It is an oral appliance designed to treat obstructive sleep apnea and /or snoring and it works in several ways:
- Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, and uvula
- Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
- Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue
Oral Sleep Appliances are:
- Covered by most medical insurances
- A comfortable alternative to the CPAP
- Small, convenient, and easy to travel with
- Prevents snoring - bed partner approved!
- Approved by the American Acedemy of Sleep Medicine and FDA