Sleep apnea affects more than 25 million people in the U.S. Many cases go undiagnosed and can have serious effects on your overall health and well-being and can even shorten your lifespan if left untreated.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition characterized by episodes of little or no breathing during sleep. These episodes can last a few seconds to over a minute, and may occur hundreds of times at night. Sleep apnea results from relaxation of muscles during sleep and retraction of the lower jaw, which blocks the airway. These pauses in breathing throughout the night reduce your oxygen intake, and are followed by brief awakening episodes that disturb your sleep.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea? Is Snoring Related to Sleep Apnea?
While snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea, not all snorers have sleep apnea. Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may include:
- Loud snoring
- Abrupt awakenings followed by shortness of breath
- Excessive daytime sleepiness and/or attention problems
- General fatigue
- Waking up with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
- Irritability and/or depression
Individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and/or diabetes may be at greater risk for sleep apnea.
How Can Bel Air Dental Care Treat Snoring and/or Sleep Apnea? What is an Oral Sleep Appliance?
Dr. Alan Scharf has travelled the country obtaining training in the optimal care of sleep apnea. He has completed training with the American Academy of Cronial Facial Pain, The T and S Therapy Centre and Mastery with The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. After several hundred hours of coursework, he has attained the status of “board qualified” with the AADSM. He collaborates with the patient’s physician on all cases because treatment of sleep apnea is a team effort.
Several different devices are available to treat snoring and/or sleep apnea, and should be designed by a trained professional. The most common oral device is a mandibular advancement device. It is similar in appearance to a sports mouth guard, and gently forces the lower jaw forward and down slightly, which aids in keeping the airway open while sleeping.
Oral sleep appliances an excellent alternative for patients who cannot tolerate a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Oral sleep appliances have several benefits, including:
- Reduction in breathing cessation episodes during the night
- Improvement in sleep
- Reduction or elimination of snoring
- Better memory and cognitive function
- Increased daytime energy
Sleep apnea is a serious condition, and proper diagnosis and treatment can not only reduce your snoring, but can greatly improve your overall health and add years to your life.