- October 16, 2016
Are you one of the nearly 20 million Americans who is affected by sleep apnea? You may not realize it if you are among the majority of people with this sleep disorder who have never been diagnosed.
How do you know if you or someone you love might have this condition? How can you get help?
We want to answer both of those questions in this post from Historic Triangle Dental Care. Dr. Michael Whyte, DDS, knows that sleep apnea can do more than disrupt your sleep. It can affect how you live well.
To learn more about how our dentist office could help you or someone you love, schedule a consultation if you live in or near Williamsburg, VA.
The Effects Of Sleep Apnea
To put it bluntly, someone with sleep apnea stops breathing when he or she falls asleep.
In the most common form of this disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, these stoppages are due to a physical issue. When someone with OSA falls asleep, his or her soft tissues relax in a way that restricts his or her airways.
When the airway is completing cut off, someone with OSA can stop breathing for up to 30 seconds several times every hour. Someone with moderate OSA may have up to 29 breathing stoppage each hour.
Breathing is essential for you to stay alive, and since falling asleep causes you to stop breathing, your body will respond by waking you up briefly to take a few breaths. When this happens repeatedly, it means you are never reaching the stages of deep sleep that health experts believe is necessary for our long-term health.
This also means lying down at night puts your body into a stressed condition since it is fighting with itself to keep you breathing.
This is a big reason why people with sleep apnea are more likely to have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
The lack of deep sleep also leads to sleep deprivation, and that plays a role in why people with sleep apnea are more than twice as likely as other people to be involved in car accidents.
Dr. Whyte wants to help you sleep better and feel healthier, and he certainly doesn’t want you to be involved in a car accident.
The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
Most of the time people with sleep apnea don’t have any memory of the brief awakenings that keep them alive, but they do experience symptoms that they can recognize.
These symptoms include:
◼︎ Waking up gasping for breathing
◼︎ Waking up with frequent morning headaches
◼︎ Waking up feeling as tired as they were when they went to bed
◼︎ Frequent daytime sleepiness
◼︎ Trouble concentrating at work or on projects at home
While these are common, that does not mean you will experience all of these symptoms. It is worth paying attention to any of these symptoms if they occur frequently in your life.
But there is a more obvious symptom that your spouse or partner is more likely to be aware of than you are. This is the one that our staff at Historic Triangle Dental Care believes you may be aware of if only because of comments from your loved ones.
Snoring. Loud, constant snoring.
When you airways are narrow (such as when someone restricts the space that air can pass through), this will amplify the sound of your snoring.
For someone with sleep apnea, the pattern will follow something like this. Doze off. Snore loudly. Stop breathing. Wake up briefly. Doze off again.
Imagine trying to sleep next to someone who was repeating that cycle 5, 10, 20, or more than 30 times an hour. Untreated sleep apnea isn’t just hard on the person who has it. This condition affects the people you love the most as well.
Treating Sleep Apnea At Our Dentist’s Office
The most common treatment for OSA is the use of a CPAP or similar machine. This keeps your airways up through the use of air pressure. To do this, the user needs to wear a mask that is connected to the machine by a hose.
This is effective for many people, and yet many sleep apnea sufferers find that the machine itself makes it difficult for them to sleep.
This is why it’s fortunate that dentists like Dr. Whyte who have gone through training can help with this condition. Oral appliances are considered a first-line treatment option for people with mild or moderate sleep apnea and a secondary treatment for people with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate a CPAP.
If you have been diagnosed with OSA, we can design an oral appliance that you can wear at night. These appliances hold your jaw in a slightly forward position that helps to keep your airways open as you sleep.
As you get accustomed to wearing it, you may find that you wake up feeling refreshed and your spouse doesn’t complain about your snoring anymore.
Make Your Appointment
Everyone deserves to sleep well, including you and your spouse. If you think sleep apnea may be affecting your sleep, make an appointment at Historic Triangle Dental Care soon.