Suffering from Sleep Apnea in Newton or Brighton, MA?
We can help.
People confuse occasional snoring with sleep apnea. A little congestion or sleeping in the wrong position can lead to occasional snoring, but sleep apnea is different — it is a serious sleep disorder that can have major impacts on your life.
At Soft-Touch Dentistry, we provide oral appliances to help our patients overcome mild to moderate sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
In sleep apnea, a person’s breathing becomes blocked many times while sleeping. This breathing interruption forces the body to awaken the person to open the airway, although he or she may not even realize they were awake briefly. These interruptions are usually caused by soft tissue in the upper airway sagging down and blocking the airflow, and they can occur dozens of times each night. Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans, yet most don’t address the problem or even know they have it.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea?
These are the common symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Abrupt awakenings from sleep
- Awakening with shortness of breath
- Episodes of breathing cessation witnessed by another person
- Waking up with a headache in the morning
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Attention problems
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
The more common form of sleep apnea (and the form we treat at Soft-Touch Dentistry) is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. These muscles support all of the surrounding tissues such as the tonsils and the walls of the throat. When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes. Your brain senses this inability to breath and briefly wakes you from sleep to reopen the airway. These lapses in sleep can be so brief you don’t even remember them. These actions can involve a snorting, choking, or gasping sound and can repeat the pattern up to 30 times per hour all night.
Sleep apnea can have various causes:
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Cardiovascular problems
- Throat and tongue muscles that are abnormally relaxed
- Nasal congestion
- Family history
What Is The Difference Between Snoring And Sleep Apnea?
Snoring and sleep apnea aren’t the same thing, although most people with sleep apnea do snore. When you snore, resistance to the airflow creates the noise while you’re sleeping. In sleep apnea, it’s not simply resistance, but there is a pronounced blockage to the degree that your brain awakens your body to open the airway.
What Negative Health Impacts Can Sleep Apnea Cause?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious health concern. Sleep apnea is the most underdiagnosed medical condition in the U.S., affecting 4 percent of middle-aged men and 2 percent of middle-aged women. People with sleep apnea have a higher risk of stroke, heart disease (including hypertension), heart failure, and heart attack. Incidence of type 2 diabetes is higher. And, if all of that weren’t enough, OSA is linked to premature death.
Beyond those life-threatening consequences, sleep apnea can simply make your life harder. You have trouble focusing at work. You’re tired most of the time. You’re irritable, likely to gain weight, suffer from headaches, and more likely to get in a car crash.
How Do You Treat Sleep Apnea?
At Soft-Touch Dentistry, we treat obstructive sleep apnea through the use of oral appliance therapy. This involves the patient wearing a mouth guard at night. You can equate it somewhat to a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. Worn only during sleep, the oral appliance supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. At Soft-Touch Dentistry, Dr. Bidabadi has experience with a variety of these appliances — there are over 100 FDA-approved oral appliances — and can help you find the one that works best for you. We take precise measurements and impressions and send them to the appliance manufacturer to create your custom oral appliance.
For more severe cases of sleep apnea, oral appliances may not be sufficient treatment and the patient may need a continuous positive airway pressure breathing system, CPAP. But, due to the necessary mask and tubes involved with CPAP, patients usually try oral appliances first, hoping to avoid CPAP’s limitations.