Not being able to have a good night’s sleep can have a negative impact on your overall lifestyle. You may find yourself falling asleep at random times of the day, feeling generally sluggish and/or irritable, and waking up feeling unprepared for the day. Between 50-70 million Americans face sleep or wakefulness disorder and one of the many causes of this can be attributed to sleep apnea. If you, your partner, or family member have noticed disruptive snoring — it can often sound like the person is choking — and signs of sleep deprivation, it could be possible that you or your loved one is suffering some sleep apnea. Interestingly enough, finding solutions from a dentist sleep apnea specialist could be the answer to your problems. Everyone deserves the chance to get a good night’s sleep and experience sleeping soundly and peacefully through the night.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea affects over 18 million Americans. If you have sleep apnea, you have several pauses in your breathing as you sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from seconds to minutes and you may have as many as 30-60 times an hour or more. After the pause, your breathing will continue regularly, usually indicated with a snort or choking sound. It can be disruptive for sleeping companions as well, who might be woken up by the noises that occur when regular breathing begins again.
More concerning, studies have shown that longterm results of untreated sleep apnea result in earlier deaths. Over an 18-year-period, people who suffered from severe sleep apnea who did not seek treatment, had a death rate of over three times that as those without sleep apnea. Additionally, because people with sleep apnea don’t sleep as soundly or as well as those without, they’re six times more likely to die as the result of a car accident. And around half of those who have sleep apnea are likely to receive a hypertension diagnosis.
Are There Common Sleep Apnea Causes?
While there are some causes that are natural and probably beyond your control, there are other causes of sleep apnea that your dentist sleep apnea specialist may tell you about if you go in for a mouthpiece. If you’re overweight, for example, this can be a contributing factor to your sleep apnea. However, other reasons you may be more at risk for sleep apnea include having throat muscles or a tongue that relax more than usual, the fact that your tongue and tonsils are larger than the space your windpipe needs, or simply getting older, which limits brain signals that tell your throat muscles to stay rigid as you sleep.
What Are Some Sleep Apnea Treatments That Dentist Sleep Apnea Specialists Could Recommend?
One of the most common things that a doctor might prescribe for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine, which blows air into your airway, which creates pressure that keeps your airway open. Some people may find the mask or pillow that comes with the CPAP machine uncomfortable however, and it does take a little getting used to, although it’s one of the most common and effective methods of helping cure sleep apnea. Many CPAP machines also come with a humidifier, to keep your airway from getting dry overnight and to increase comfort.
Your doctor may also send you to a dentist sleep apnea specialist, who can craft a mouthpiece for sleep apnea that you can wear when you go to bed. These mouth guards can cost on average between $1,800 and $2,000, but there are over 100 oral appliances that are all different that have been signed off on by the FDA to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Another option is to get a mandibular repositioning device (abbreviation MRD). These devices can increase your upper airway capacity by anywhere between 50-70% by using mandibular advancement.
Sleep apnea can have serious consequences for your overall health, especially as you get older. It’s in your best interests to try and find a solution for your sleep apnea as soon as possible to avoid some dangerous health complications in the future.