Are you having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep? Sleep apnea may be the cause! Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects an estimated 22 million people across the United States – many of which remain undiagnosed for the condition. This is due to many symptoms being overlooked and dismissed.
At Smiles West in Lake Forest, CA, our team is aware of the dangers associated with untreated sleep apnea and is prepared to work with you and address the issue. We encourage you to review the information below to learn more about this sleep disorder. Doing so may allow you or a loved one to recognize the condition and seek treatment sooner rather than later.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with our team, contact our office today!
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing for short periods of time while you sleep. These episodes can last from a few seconds to a full minute or longer, and they may happen multiple times during the night. Sleep apnea can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling tired during the day. It also can cause serious health problems over time – including high blood pressure and cardiovascular conditions.
The body needs adequate sleep in order to continue performing properly. The rest period is essentially a reset for all the body’s major systems; during sleep, energy is restored, muscles relax, and blood pressure drops. The brain remains active and signals the body to accelerate tissue growth and repair at a cellular level. All the while, the dream cycle presents itself to indicate the body has entered a deep sleep.
When the body fails to enter the sleep cycle for a sufficient period of time, the body and the mind become more vulnerable to problems.
There are different types of sleep apnea, but the most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, your airway becomes blocked or narrow during sleep, and breathing is disrupted. This occurs when the muscles in your throat relax to the point where they collapse and block your airway. When your airway is blocked or narrowed, your oxygen level drops, and snoring occurs.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are many symptoms of sleep apnea, but the most common and well-known symptom is snoring. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Other symptoms include:
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Daytime fatigue
- Morning headaches
- Dry or sore throat in the morning
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Moodiness or irritability
There are many risk factors associated with sleep apnea. Some of the most common include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a large neck circumference
- Having large tonsils
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or other causes
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers
- Older age
Sleep apnea may also occur more often in people with certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, chronic lung disease, or hormonal disorders.
At our office, we offer free consultations to patients who suspect they may have sleep apnea. While we cannot confirm this diagnosis, we can present the patient with resources and referrals to ensure that they get the care they need. We want our patients to be informed and empowered to make decisions about their health, so we hope you’ll take advantage of this offer. Once the condition has been confirmed, we will meet with the patient to discuss the appropriate course of treatment.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is a treatment option for sleep apnea that involves wearing a custom-made mouthpiece during the rest period. Designed similar to an orthodontic retainer, the mouthpiece slips over the teeth and alters the resting position of the mouth. The appliance helps to keep the airway open by extending the lower jaw in a forward position; this expands the breathing passage and prevents the oral tissue from collapsing or the tongue from blocking the throat.
Oral appliance therapy is often recommended for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea who are reluctant to use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy.
Referral Network for Diagnosis
If you believe you are suffering from sleep apnea, your first step is to seek confirmation of the diagnosis from a medical professional. At Smiles West, we are part of a referral network that can help connect you with the physicians necessary to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
We work closely within our referral network to ensure we receive all the information necessary to present adequate treatment options for your diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can work with you to find the treatment option that is best suited for your needs.
We encourage you not to ignore your symptoms any longer and connect with our team to get help. You deserve a peaceful night of sleep; let us help make that happen for you! Call today!