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Posts for tag: Sleep Apnea

By Crystal Falls Dental
August 12, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Sleep Apnea   snoring  

Fatigue, a “foggy” mind, and irritability are all signs you’re not getting enough sleep—and neither might your sleeping partner from your continuous snoring. You might have a common form of sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD) known as obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes obstructed (usually by the tongue), resulting in a lack of oxygen. The body rouses from sleep just enough to correct the obstruction. This can occur and interrupt deep sleep several times a night, causing the aforementioned problems as well as personality changes, high blood pressure or increased stomach acid reflux. If the problem persists, sleep apnea could also become a long-term factor in the development of heart disease, diabetes or other serious conditions.

Fortunately, we can do something about it. While some may require more invasive intervention, most cases of sleep apnea can be alleviated through continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. In this therapy, an electrical pump supplies pressurized air into a face mask worn while sleeping. The increased air pressure helps to keep the airway open.

For some patients, however, CPAP can cause discomfort like claustrophobia, nasal congestion and dryness. If that’s a concern for you, you might want to consider an oral appliance provided by your dentist.

Customized to your own individual mouth contours, this appliance is usually a two-part hinged device that draws the lower jaw and the tongue forward to open the airway. Easily adjustable, these appliances are usually more comfortable to wear than a CPAP and don’t require electricity or have the attendant noise of a CPAP pump.

They do, however, have a few drawbacks: they can disrupt saliva flow, causing either too much or too little; they may result in some morning soreness; and they can stimulate unnecessary tooth or jaw movements. For most, though, these side effects are minor compared to a better night’s sleep.

If you suspect you may have some form of SRBD, you’ll need to have it confirmed through a physical examination and possibly sleep lab testing. If it is sleep apnea, your physician and dentist can work together to help you find the right therapy to regain the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Crystal Falls Dental
October 26, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Sleep Apnea   snoring  

For millions of Americans, sleep apnea is a serious health condition. Not only can it impair your day-to-day living, you might be more susceptible to high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.

Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for short periods while asleep. When blood oxygen drops too low, your body automatically wakes you to take a breath. This can disrupt your sleep several times a night. Chronic symptoms like drowsiness, irritability or headaches during the day, or indications you're a loud snorer, are all possible signs of sleep apnea.

Fortunately, we can treat sleep apnea. One way is continuous airway pressure therapy (CPAP), a pump device that supplies pressurized air through a mask to keep the airway open during sleep. Although CPAP is effective, some people find it uncomfortable to use.

There's a more comfortable option for sleep apnea caused by mouth structures like the tongue or tonsils obstructing the airway. It involves a custom-fitted oral appliance worn while you sleep that moves these structures out of the way.

Such appliances come in two basic types. One type fits over the upper and lower teeth and uses tiny metal hinges to move the lower jaw and tongue forward away from the airway. The other fits around and presses the tongue down like a tongue depressor to move it forward.

Before starting treatment, we need to first find out if you actually have sleep apnea and what's causing it (some cases may be more acute and require advanced treatments like jaw surgery). We'll need to perform medical and oral exams and take a history, and we'll likely refer you to a sleep medicine specialist for further testing.

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, a custom-fitted appliance could be a good solution. We'll create and adjust it according to your particular mouth and jaw contours for maximum comfort. Besides the appliance, you might also lose excess weight, adjust your sleep position, seek treatment for allergies, and quit smoking. All these could help reduce sleep apnea.

In any event, your first step is to find out if you have sleep apnea. From there we'll help you find the right treatment to improve your overall health and well being.

If you would like more information on treatments for sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Crystal Falls Dental
April 30, 2015
Category: Oral Health

You may think snoring is a minor problem, but it can be a lot more than that. Just ask hoops star Shaquille O'Neal, whose rambunctious snoring bothered his girlfriend enough for her to suspect a health problem. Her observations eventually led to Shaq's diagnosis of moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the soft tissue structures at the back of a person's throat, including the tongue, partially close off the upper airway and prevent air from moving into the lungs during sleep. Sometimes airflow can be blocked completely for 10 or more seconds.

When air flow is reduced, blood oxygen levels drop. This leads to brief waking episodes known as “micro-arousals,” which can happen sometimes more than 50 times an hour. The sleeper might not even be aware of this, even while gasping for air. Micro-arousals prevent the person from ever reaching deep, restful sleep.

Besides suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show sleep apnea patients are at higher risks of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes. People with sleep apnea also have a higher incidence of work and driving-related accidents.

OSA can be treated in a few different ways. On the advice of his doctor, Shaq opted for a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which generates pressurized air delivered through a face mask worn while sleeping. The force of the pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same way as blowing into a balloon does.

For people with milder OSA, or who find they can't tolerate wearing a mask during sleep, an oral appliance supplied by a dental professional might be the answer. Oral appliances are worn in the mouth and are designed to gently reposition the jaw and move the tongue forward away from the back of the throat. Success rates of 80% or more have been reported using oral appliances, depending on the severity of the OSA.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Crystal Falls Dental
March 11, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Sleep Apnea  

Sleep ApneaIs snoring disturbing your sleep and that of your spouse, too? Frankly, loud and frequent snoring can be more than a relationship issue. During a snoring episode, the soft tissues in the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat vibrate, creating the characteristic "ZZZZZZZ" noise. This sound can happen when someone has a cold or is sleeping with their mouth open.

However, instead of simple snoring, the real issue may be sleep apnea, a serious health problem that affects millions of middle-aged men and women, some children and many individuals over the age of 65. When a person has sleep apnea they don't only snore, they actually stop breathing.

If ignored, sleep apnea can lead to heart attack, stroke, hypertension and heart arrhythmias. Fortunately, this common health condition is something that can be evaluated and treated by primary care doctors, sleep physicians and dentists.

Signs that snoring is sleep apnea

Besides the obvious symptom of loud and frequent snoring, sleep apnea is characterized by:

  • breathing that stops during sleep
  • sleepiness during the day
  • insomnia
  • memory fogginess
  • inattentiveness and poor concentration
  • headaches
  • mood swings and depression

Kinds of sleep apnea

There are 2 kinds of sleep apnea:

  1. Central. This happens when the brain does not communicate with the muscles in the chest that tell a person to breathe.
  2. Obstructive. This occurs when the soft tissues of the throat are floppy and obstruct airflow.
  3. Mixed. Some individuals have a combination of the other 2 kinds of sleep apnea.

What to do if snoring is really sleep apnea

A physician can determine how medically dangerous a person's snoring is, and there are several courses of treatment. Some involve surgical reconstruction of the structures at the back of the throat. Another intervention is CPAP or Continuous Positive Air Pressure. Individuals who use CPAP wear a mask at night which delivers a continuous stream of oxygen. This air flow helps keep the airway open and the person breathing normally.

For mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, some health care providers recommend a nighttime mouth guard. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) states that these guards resemble those worn by athletes. They prevent the soft tissues of the mouth from blocking the throat by changing the position of the tongue or by moving the lower jaw forward. Professionals agree that mouth guards can alleviate sleep apnea. The best devices are fitted by a dentist who has experience treating sleep disorders.

Optimum health

At Crystal Falls Dental in Leander, Texas, Doctors Loftus and Anderson want you to have a healthy, attractive smile. They provide a range of restorative and cosmetic dental services for the entire family. Also, they want your overall health to be its best, too. If you are concerned about snoring, call Doctors Loftus and Anderson to set-up a consultation. They would be happy to answer your questions and get you the right treatment. Call them at (989) 799-6250.