It’s estimated that there are over 22 million moderate to severe cases of undiagnosed sleep apnea in the United States. To give some perspective, if you combined the populations of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington DC, there would still be about one-and-a-half million more cases of sleep apnea than these combined populations. Translation—a lot of people inflicted with sleep deprivation.
What is sleep apnea?
The most common cause is while you are sleeping, the soft tissue on the back part of your throat relaxes and blocks (partially or completely) the airway. It interrupts the natural breathing patterns of sleep, which may lead to oxygen deprivation in the brain and the body. When left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. There are even studies that connect it to type 2 diabetes and depression. Drowsiness during the day can lead to traffic accidents and distractions while at work. It’s not uncommon for an individual with sleep apnea to stop breathing over 100 times a night.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be treated by in our office—Dr. Stern has the training and technology to do a full evaluation of your teeth, mouth, and temporomandibular joint. During the initial evaluation, Dr. Stern will check to see if your teeth and jaw structure are healthy enough to wear an oral appliance while you’re sleeping. To make the sleep apnea appliance, we will make dental models of your teeth can create a custom oral fitting to help prevent the soft tissue from collapsing into your airway.
Although the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is the most common prescribed treatment method for OSA, only about 60% of all patients can tolerate the CPAP. What’s more, about half of those that can initially tolerate it quit using it within the first year. “Darth Vader” breathing, discomfort from the mask and claustrophobia are among the reasons for quitting. Treating sleep apnea with the oral appliance has shown positive results in many studies and has been widely accepted by ENTs, dentists and sleep specialists alike.
Key factors in the causation of OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)
Overweight males over the age of 40 are prime candidates for sleep apnea. Their necks are generally thicker (over 17 inches) and there’s more soft tissue to collapse the airway. Sleep apnea is not just limited to the aging overweight male demographic. Recent studies have shown that the disease can affect thin males, women of all ages and body compositions and even young adults and children. If you, your spouse or a child snores or stops breathing, you run the risks of untreated sleep and oxygen deprivation. Unknowingly, you may be affecting your loved ones sleeping patterns as well by snoring loudly, gasping for air or waking with sudden gasps. Your body convulses to restart your involuntary life sustaining functions that can wake or disrupt your partner sleeping next to you.
Call us today and Dr. Stern will evaluate your teeth, jaw alignment then fit you with an oral appliance. Then it’s sweet dreams for you!