It affects up to 30% of adults in America. What is this epidemic, you may ask? Obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep breathing disorder. It can impact your quality of sleep, your ability to function, the way you breathe and even may threaten your life. Let’s learn more about the risks of sleep apnea, and how your Kingston dentist at Sleep Soundly TN can help.
Here’s what happens when a patient suffers from sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs from an airway blockage that develops whenever a person lays down to sleep. These blockages impede the airway, often cutting off the flow of air altogether. Often, a patient who suffers from sleep apnea stops breathing, if only for a few seconds. You may never consciously wake up, but your sleep is compromised nonetheless. As oxygen levels decrease, your brain sends warning signals to your body to bring you out of the sleep cycle and resume breathing. Each time one of these blockages, also referred to as an “apneic event”, occurs, you are jolted out of the sleep cycle. A person with a severe, untreated case of sleep apnea may experience hundreds of these blockages each night.
Sleep apnea symptoms
Snoring is the primary warning sign of sleep apnea. While it’s true that some people who snore do not suffer from sleep apnea, a person who snores loudly and continuously is at greater likelihood of having the sleep breathing disorder.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Making choking or gasping sounds while you sleep
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Poor performance at work and/or school
- Daytime fatigue
The consequences of living with sleep loss
This means a patient with sleep apnea experiences less time in the deepest stages of sleep, which are vital to restoring the mind and body. Given the number of apneic events that a patient with sleep apnea may experience on a nightly basis, it’s obvious that sleep apnea can lead to sleep loss and eventual sleep deprivation. When you have sleep apnea, it doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you get, or how early you go to bed. Until your sleep apnea is treated, it will be impossible for you to get the proper rest you need.
Other potential effects of sleep apnea include:
- High blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Memory problems, including cognitive decline
- Weight gain, leading to obesity
Sleep apnea also elevates your risk of certain chronic diseases, including those that are chronic and potentially life-threatening. These include cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. Living with sleep apnea can even increase your susceptibility to certain forms of cancer.
How we treat sleep apnea
You might be wondering, “how can a dentist help with sleep apnea?” Sleep apnea dentistry is a specialization of dental science that focuses on airway management and treatment of sleep apnea. A sleep apnea dentist addresses the root cause of the condition: whatever is blocking the airway. The most common sources of sleep apnea are either a collapse of the muscles of the throat during sleep, or when the tonsils, adenoids or tongue impede airflow.
A sleep apnea dentist prefers to treat the disorder through oral appliance therapy, rather than CPAP–the most common method of treatment for sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is more convenient, less invasive and has a higher compliance rate than CPAP. A sleep apnea oral appliance looks like a night guard or anti-snoring mouthpiece you might find in stores. However, a true sleep apnea device is made of higher-quality materials and customized for ideal fit, comfort and performance. This device serves as a method of mandibular advancement–it brings the lower jaw forward, helping maintain an open airway all night long.
Treating sleep apnea in Kingston, Tennessee
Not every dentist is qualified to treat sleep apnea. A sleep apnea dentist undergoes special training and education to diagnose and resolve airway issues. Dr. James Walmsley has completed hundreds of hours of education in sleep apnea and holds memberships with both the International Academy of Sleep and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. We offer oral appliance therapy with devices made of the finest quality and to the unique specifications of each patient’s mouth.
Stop living with sleep loss and facing the risk of other serious complications from sleep apnea. Millions of Americans just like you live with untreated sleep apnea. Don’t become another statistic! Schedule an airway evaluation with Dr. Walmsley today. Just call (865) 376-9687 or make an appointment request online.