At Love Your Smile Dentistry, we focus on our patient’s overall health and wellness. Getting a good night’s rest has a large impact on the way we think and go about our day. Dr. Ellis and her team have been trained to help in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, the individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.
How Do I Know If I May Have Sleep Apnea?
Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is, are you getting a good night’s sleep? If not, try recording yourself sleeping or ask your bed partner to listen while you sleep. Pay attention to the following warning signs.
- Loud, frequent snoring – Loud and frequent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea.
- Breathing pauses – By definition, sleep apnea involves repeated breathing pauses throughout the night. Your bed partner may hear you gasp for breath in your sleep or may wait (slightly panicked) to hear you take your next breath.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (the ability to fall asleep anywhere, at any time)
- Memory problems
- Irritability or moodiness
- Decreased sex drive or impotence
- Morning headaches
- Acid reflux symptoms such as indigestion and heart burn or chest pain
How can Dr. Ellis help me?
An oral appliance is an effective alternative to the standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and mask. Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway by supporting the jaw in a forward position. Many medical insurance plans cover oral appliances. First, a physician must diagnose you with obstructive sleep apnea and prescribe oral appliance therapy for you. Then, we can work with you to select the best oral appliance for your needs. We will custom-fit the device using impressions and models of your teeth.
Many patients prefer oral appliance therapy as a solution for living with sleep apnea. It provides them with much improved sleep and offers the following benefits:
- Comfort – It can be hard to sleep with a CPAP machine and bulky mask. Patients often like oral appliances because they are comfortable and easier to wear, especially for those who change positions during sleep or snuggle their bed partner.
- Quiet – A CPAP machine may silence the snoring, but its constantly running motor might not help you or your bed partner sleep more soundly. Oral appliance therapy is a silent option that can minimize the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring, without making a peep of its own.
- Easy Travel – It can be difficult to travel with a bulky CPAP machine. A compact, lightweight oral appliance can help lessen your load.
- Low-maintenance – It is super easy to care for an oral appliance. Just a toothbrush cleaning with mild soap will keep your appliance germ-free.
- Effective Treatment– Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative to CPAP. When patients consistently wear their oral appliance, they wake up each morning feeling refreshed.
If you think you may have sleep apnea – don’t worry – we can help. Our team at Love Your Smile Dentistry can answer your questions about obstructive sleep apnea, including the process for diagnosis and treatment options. The first step is for you to be diagnosed by a physician – and we can refer you to a great sleep doctor to get you started. Schedule today online for your appointment so our team can assist you with answers about the process and a referral.