Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep is not something any person should go without. The hours that you spend sleeping rejuvenate every cell of your body. Without adequate sleep, physical and cognitive capacity declines. Many people struggle with the symptoms of chronic fatigue without knowing that the problem could be right under their nose. Dr. David Frey is proud to offer comprehensive dental services to patients in the Beverly Hills area that include treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a dangerous and often frightening disorder, where the tongue obstructs the back of the throat and prevents air from entering the lungs during sleep. This condition results in a very low blood oxygen level, and can result in numerous additional physical and psychological medical problems. Patients with sleep apnea will often jolt awake to gasp for air, and have reported depression, trouble concentrating during the day, and constant fatigue.
Causes of snoring
Snoring is a frustrating habit that occurs when there is a partial blockage in the nasal passageway. We may snore when we have a cold or when allergy season comes around. Some people snore every night regardless of a known cause. This could be related to the pressure inflicted on their airway when they sleep. Pressure can somewhat narrow the airway, making it more difficult for air to pass through. When breathing, the movement of air causes vibration in the soft tissue of the throat, creating the sounds we know as snoring.
Is snoring always a sign of sleep apnea?
Nearly 90 million people are chronic snorers. However, only about half of them have sleep apnea. So, no, snoring does not always equal sleep apnea. What we do know is that snoring is a major indicator of the common sleep condition, but not mere snoring. A person with sleep apnea will typically snore very loudly for a time and then “quit” snoring. The quiet indicates that there is no air passing through the airway.
Dangers of Sleep Apnea
The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep apnea is directly linked to heart disease, and can even lead to an early death.
Sleep apnea affects the body in two ways. One is by inhibiting quality sleep. Lack of sleep means there is less energy in the cells to function well, thereby inviting disease. Another effect of sleep apnea is a persistent chemical stress response caused by oxygen deprivation in the brain. Every time there is an apnea episode, the body gets infused with adrenaline.
Untreated sleep apnea is known to worsen the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. It also disrupts the bodies endocrine system, increasing the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. People with sleep apnea are more prone to depression and anxiety. They are more at risk for accidents and relationship problems. Studies have shown that sleep apnea also increases the likelihood of fatty liver disease and cardiovascular problems associated with the stress that apnea places on the heart muscle. Studies indicate that obstructive sleep apnea reduces life expectancy an average of twelve years.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
The first step to diagnosing and treating sleep apnea is to see a board certified sleep doctor, who will assess the severity of your condition. He or she may take a lateral Cephologram to determine the size of the airway in your throat, and then use a Pharyngometer to measure the volume of air that can travel through the airway.
There are several ways to treat sleep apnea. When possible, our practice prefers to create an oral mouthguard that gently holds your lower jaw forward as you sleep. This, in turn, prevents your tongue from blocking the airway in your throat.
How long is an oral mouthguard needed?
Oral appliance therapy may continue indefinitely if symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea do not improve with weight loss and lifestyle improvements.
Can sleep apnea be cured?
There does not seem to be a cure for sleep apnea. However, several strategies can be implemented to diminish the symptoms of this condition. The first step in doing so is to determine the underlying cause. A high percentage of cases are identified as obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that occurs due to a physical blockage of the airway. Treatments, therefore, revolve around lifestyle changes and breathing devices that maintain the airway during sleep.
Sleep Apnea vs. TMJ
One study discovered that 43% of people with TMJ also have problems sleeping. Studies are still ongoing to fully understand the connection between these two disorders. The relationship could be that, when a person stops breathing, the natural physiological response is to push the lower jaw forward to open the airway. The continual repetition of this movement during sleep places stress on the temporomandibular joints, creating inflammation and pain. Another theory is that TMJ contributes to obstructive sleep apnea because the joint and muscular structure that controls the lower mandible is out of alignment and therefore partly responsible for airway obstruction.
Schedule A Consultation
If you’re concerned that sleep apnea is affecting your quality of life, please contact us immediately at 310.276.4537. We work closely with doctors who specialize in sleep disorders and cosmetic dentistry and can make a recommendation based on your specific needs.