What is Sleep Apnea?
There are three different types of sleep apnea but the main type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This occurs when the muscles in your throat relax and collapse, causing an obstructed airway when you sleep. When the throat muscles collapse when you sleep, it cuts off your airway, alerting your brain to reopen the airway. The airway can also become obstructed as a result of narrow dental arches and/or an underdeveloped jaw. As a result, the brain causes your body to choke, snort, or gasp to catch your breath. This event can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, interrupting your sleep each time.
OSA prevents people from getting a good night of sleep because it’s interrupted the entire time. Without proper deep sleep, people often experience exhaustion during the day, in addition to other bothersome symptoms.
Without treatment, sleep apnea can contribute to serious health consequences including stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and more.
- 100% of Americans are directly or indirectly affected by snoring and sleep apnea.
- According to the Journal of Sleep Medicine, 38,0000 annual cardiovascular deaths are related to sleep apnea.
- According to Mayo Clinic, 1 in 5 people have shortness of breath.
- More than 133 million Americans live with a chronic disease or disability. According to the 2006 Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports, Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem, found the cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent an unrecognized public health problem and have been associated with a wide range of negative health consequences, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, heart attack, stroke, and at-risk behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.
What Causes Snoring?
Although snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, it doesn’t always mean you have sleep apnea. When someone doesn’t have sleep apnea but they snore every night, it’s likely bothersome to their sleeping partner and causing them to have a sore throat. Snoring is a result of a narrow airway. It can be a result of a nose or throat condition, using alcohol, sleeping on your back, or even from carrying extra weight. With an oral appliance, Dr. Massa can treat your snoring to help you sleep soundlessly at night.
- Your sleep apnea may be a result of an obstruction in the airway caused by narrow dental arches and/or an underdeveloped jaw.
- In 98% of patients with OSAS, the condition is due to abnormal anatomical features of the soft tissues and/or the structure of the maxillomandibular skeleton that cause disproportionate anatomy of the airway.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, look for one or more of the following symptoms.
- Loud snoring
- Gasping, choking, or snorting throughout the night
- Waking up with a headache
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood issues
- Difficulty staying asleep
Sleep Apnea in Children
Adults aren’t the only ones at risk for sleep disorders. Children can also develop sleep apnea as a result of an underdeveloped jaw and compromised airway. Without early intervention, children can experience mood, behavior, energy, and vitality changes.
Signs your child might have sleep apnea include:
- Chronic allergies
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Trouble at school
- Frequent headaches
- Restless sleep
- Aggressive behavior
- Daytime drowsiness
- Nightmares or night terrors
- Arrested growth
- Crowded, crooked teeth
If your child is struggling with any of the issues listed above, they might be a result of untreated sleep apnea. Please contact our dental office at (239) 597-7333 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. If your child does have sleep apnea, we will help them find the right treatment to correct their problems. If an underdeveloped jaw is the cause, the Vivos® appliance will correct the development issues and resolve the sleep apnea, improve breathing, and overall oral health.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Diagnosing sleep apnea is one of the first steps you should take if you think you have it. Although only a physician can technically diagnose sleep apnea, Dr. Massa can point you in the right direction for a proper diagnosis. By taking a home sleep test, or visiting a sleep clinic, a doctor can monitor and evaluate your sleep to see if there are any signs of sleep apnea. Once you have an official diagnosis, Dr. Massa can evaluate your airways to see if you could benefit from physiologic dentistry to expand your airway or if you need another treatment like an oral appliance.
Oral Appliance Sleep Apnea Treatment
Oftentimes when you visit a doctor about your sleep apnea or snoring, their first instinct is to instruct you to use a CPAP machine while you sleep. CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure therapy involves wearing a mask while you sleep. A respiratory system connects to the mask which creates higher air pressure to keep the tissue in the back of your mouth in addition to your tongue from blocking your airway. The machine is generally noisy, uncomfortable to wear, and inconvenient to travel with, not to mention expensive. Most patients stop using their CPAP after a few weeks due to the discomfort it causes.
Dr. Massa recognizes the dissatisfaction that comes with CPAP which is why he proudly offers oral appliance therapy to his patients. Oral appliance therapy offers patients the same benefits as CPAP, without the discomfort and inconvenience.
Dr. Massa offers several different oral appliances to help meet his patient’s different needs. One pushes the lower jaw forward to open the airway while another holds the tongue in place. Each oral appliance is custom made to fit your mouth perfectly.
Our ultimate goal is to give you a sleep apnea or snoring treatment that you will use consistently. Consistent use is the only way you can reduce the health risks associated with sleep apnea like heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy
Whether you’re switching to an oral appliance from using a CPAP or this is your first snoring or sleep apnea treatment, you can expect to experience the following benefits.
Comfortable – Oral appliances feel just like wearing a retainer or a night guard at night. You don’t have to try and navigate your bed with a large mask over your face. As a bonus, you don’t have to feel embarrassed wearing it at night because nobody can see it.
Convenient – Oral appliances are small and therefore easy to transport. Packing for an overnight trip is easy as putting your small oral appliance with your toothbrush in your bag.
Affordable – If you have insurance, it’s likely you will have some coverage for your appliance. If not, don’t stress because they’re significantly cheaper than CPAP.
Want to learn more about oral appliance therapy or find out if it can help you stop snoring? Contact Massa Dental Center to schedule an appointment with our sleep dentist in Naples, FL or give us a call at (239) 597-7333