The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition that affects millions of people in the United States. Those who suffer from OSA periodically stop breathing for short periods of time while they are sleeping. Sleep apnea can be harmful to your general health and overall quality of life, as it is linked to many health problems including hypertension, diabetes, and in severe cases, sudden death. Possible side effects of OSA include, but are not limited to, excessive sleepiness during the day, grinding teeth during sleep, and even an elevated risk of workplace injuries.
Snoring is a Key Symptom
Snoring may be caused by many things, including allergies, alcohol consumption, or blocked sinuses. However, there is also a strong link between sleep apnea and snoring. Those who snore are more likely to have sleep apnea, while those with sleep apnea are more likely to snore. Therefore, if you snore, it is important to let your dentist know.
How Do I Know if I Have OSA?
Obstructive sleep apnea can only be diagnosed through a professional sleep study in which you are closely monitored throughout the night. In the past, the only option was to spend the night at a sleep clinic. Today, though, the technology exists allowing some patients to complete a sleep test in the comfort of their own home using a portable monitor. Ask your dentist if a home sleep test is an option for you.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
OSA is a long-term condition that many sufferers aren’t even aware that they have. Although there is no cure, a few solutions have been found to provide relief. The most common is known as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This machine attaches to your nose and mouth while you sleep to keep your airway open. While effective, it is also bulky, noisy and expensive.
Many doctors and dentists are now turning to a smaller, simpler, highly effective solution. The sleep apnea mouth guard, also known as the “snoring mouthpiece,” is smaller than the palm of your hand, and can be worn comfortably and quietly. Similar to a sports mouth guard, the sleep apnea mouth guard is designed to pull the jaw forward to prevent overnight airway collapse, thus allowing you to breathe regularly. It greatly reduces your snoring so that you and your loved ones may finally get the quiet, deep slumber that your body has been craving.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are looking to get a good night’s sleep, contact Savannah Dental Solutions today at (912) 354-1366. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will guide you through the process from diagnosis to fitting to regular care and maintenance.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a chronic medical condition that affects an estimated 18 to 30 million adults in the United States. It causes sufferers to stop breathing for short periods during the night, increases the risks for many health conditions, and can even lead to sudden death.
One of the most common symptoms is snoring, yet snoring can also be caused by anything from allergies or a cold to the shape of your sinuses. How can you tell if you have sleep apnea, and what can you do about it if you do? Here is what you should know.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Besides snoring, sleep apnea has many signs. Each person is different, so you might experience all, some, or none of the following symptoms:
- – Excessive daytime sleepiness
- – Noticeable pauses in breathing during sleep
- – Nighttime teeth grinding
In mild cases, these symptoms may be nearly undetectable, or easily chalked up to other things such as a poor night’s rest. In particularly bad cases, on the other hand, some people report that they wake during the night feeling unable to catch their breath, or like they are drowning. Some feel physically unable to stay awake during the day, even when they seem to have gotten plenty of sleep.
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disease, is not always related to sleep apnea. However, if you have symptoms of TMJ, it may be worth investigating whether sleep apnea is the cause, particularly if you also have other signs of the condition. Here are some common symptoms of TMJ:
- – Teeth grinding or clenching
- – Worn or chipped teeth
- – Worn away tooth enamel
- – Increased dental sensitivity
- – Muscle tightness in the jaw, neck, and shoulders
- – Earaches
- – Headaches
- – Facial pain
The only way to know for sure if you have sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep study. Traditionally, these have been held in medical facilities known as sleep labs. You will be asked to arrive in the evening, typically between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. You should bring your medications, comfortable sleeping attire, and your morning hygiene supplies.
After checking in and filling out forms, you will change clothes and be hooked up to a variety of wires. Electrodes are used to monitor your sleep stages throughout the night, as well as your facial and body movements. You will also wear an EKG monitor to track your heart rate and rhythm, an oxygen sensor on your finger, and a nasal monitor to track your breathing. Finally, you might have elastic bands placed around your chest and stomach to monitor breathing effort and a microphone at your throat to check for snoring.
You will sleep in a provided hospital bed until early morning, typically around 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. Then you will be awakened by a tech, who will disconnect the monitoring devices, ask you to sign a few more forms, and escort you to the lab’s facilities for showering and morning hygiene. Your results will be sent to your doctor or dentist, who will discuss them with you at a follow-up appointment.
Home Sleep Tests
Although most sleep labs go out of their way to make patients as comfortable as possible, sleep studies are not much fun. In some cases, you might be able to conduct a home sleep test instead. This allows you to conduct your nighttime monitoring in the comfort of your own home and bed.
If you qualify for a home sleep test, you will receive a small monitoring system about the size of a telephone handset. Just connect the various monitoring devices as instructed before you go to sleep, and leave them on throughout the night. Home sleep tests do not include the electrodes used in lab-based sleep studies.
You will be instructed to use the monitoring equipment for one to three nights, depending on your individual circumstances. Then you will simply return the device to the coordinating office, receive your results, and share them with your dentist for follow-up.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Sleep apnea is traditionally treated with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which keeps your airway from collapsing during the night. Although these machines typically provide excellent results, many people struggle with breathing normally while using one. Others dislike the bulky equipment and elaborate setup, which can be especially difficult for frequent travelers.
There are other variations on the CPAP, but many people prefer a sleek and simple anti-snoring mouthpiece, also known as a sleep apnea mouth guard. Instead of a bulky machine, these mouthpieces are small and easy to carry. They look something like a football player’s mouth guard, and are designed to hold the mouth and jaw in alignment to prevent nighttime collapse.
Snoring and sleep apnea are complicated disorders, and should only be diagnosed and treated by a professional. If you show any signs or symptoms, please bring your condition to the dentist’s attention right away. With proper diagnosis and treatment, there is no reason to suffer any longer.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.