November 16, 2016
Did you know that snoring at night can be linked to a number of health problems? While most snoring is mild and normal, more than 18 million adults in the U.S. snore due to a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. At Appalachian Dental Care in Boone, NC, Dr. Airey has provided a dental solution for many patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
About Sleep Apnea
When we sleep, our muscles relax. For some people, the muscles that are supposed to keep our airways open, no matter what position we’re in, also relax. The result is that breathing is obstructed. People with obstructive sleep apnea generally have very loud snoring sounds, awaken multiple times during the night (up to 240 times a night, although they often don’t remember awakening), and may even stop breathing for short periods during sleep. It’s common to have a pattern of progressively shorter breaths, followed by a pause in breathing and physical movements, before the pattern begins all over again.
Sleep apnea can have a number of negative effects on your health. Daytime sleepiness, and even drowsy driving, are very common because people aren’t getting restorative sleep at night. With obstructed breathing, the blood oxygen levels drop during sleep. Combined with lack of good sleep, people with obstructive sleep apnea can experience high blood pressure, mood problems, memory issues, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart problems, and even liver problems.
You may have sleep apnea and not even know it. If you have a bed partner, he or she has probably been awakened or kept awake by your loud snoring, restlessness, and lack of breathing at times. In fact, your partner may have relocated to another room to sleep.
Or, it may be your partner whose snoring, restlessness, and breathing lapses are keeping you awake. Either way, sleep apnea can affect more than the person who suffers from it.
Approaches to Treating Sleep Apnea
The most common approach to treating sleep apnea is to use a machine that increases pressure in the airway to keep it open.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) are the most widely used obstructive sleep apnea treatments and work very well for most people. However, some people can’t handle the mask required to deliver the air or the feeling of pressure or resistance when they exhale. For others, the noise of the machine or the awkwardness of the air hose prevent restful sleep.
Other airway pressure machines include the bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP), which delivers less pressure when exhaling, and the EPAP, which may help with mild apnea.
For some people, surgery is the only effective treatment option. One of those surgical options is to reposition the jaw to help keep the airway open.
Dental Approaches to Treating Sleep Apnea
A non-surgical approach to treating sleep apnea is to use a customized mouthpiece – a “snore guard – to reposition the jaw during sleep. There are several types of dental appliances available that can help you, and your bed partner, get a good night’s sleep.
Dr. Airey can create a snore guard designed just for you to help combat sleep apnea. Your customized snore guard will fit comfortably over your teeth at night and will reposition your jaw just enough. Your airway will remain open even if your airway muscles relax too much. Another type of snore guard will keep your tongue from falling back in your throat, which is another contributing factor in obstructive sleep apnea.
With a customized snore guard from Dr. Airey, you should finally be able to sleep normally again. Not only will you finally feel rested when you awaken, you can avoid the host of health problems that sleep apnea can cause. And, your bed partner will thank you.
Is a Snore Guard Right for You?
At our Boone, NC office, we have a 3D imaging machine that will show the size of your airway. The recommended treatment will depend on the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea. For many people with mild or moderate sleep apnea, a dental appliance is a very effective form of treatment that’s more convenient and better tolerated than an airway pressure device.
To learn more about the sleep apnea treatment available through Appalachian Dental Care, or to schedule your consultation and examination, give our Boone, NC office a call today at 828-355-5673, or use our convenient online form.