Sleep Apnea or Snoring
More than 80 million people snore, that’s one third of the North American population. Snoring frequently disturbs the sleep of family members and can lead to serious health problems. The muscles and soft tissues of the throat and mouth relax during sleep and reduce the size of the airway; the decrease in airway space increases the velocity of air flowing through the airway with each breath and causes the soft tissues inside the mouth and throat to vibrate in a snore. The struggle for breath which produces a snore can raise blood pressure and may damage the walls of the carotid arteries and increase the risk of stroke. Complete obstruction of the airway by the oral soft tissues and tongue can cause obstructive sleep apnea, an asphyxiative condition.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when the tongue and tissues at the back of the throat relax and block the airway (either partially or completely) during sleep. The body fights to try to breathe, often leading to a loud gasp for air and/or a forceful jerk. This pause in breathing can cause serious health risks, so receiving a diagnosis is crucial. In addition to gasping for breath, some signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Drowsiness or fatigue throughout the day
- Accidentally falling asleep during the day
- Waking up with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
If you or a loved one exhibit these signs, sleep apnea may be the cause. Once a sleep test has been completed, a medical doctor can diagnose whether or not sleep apnea is the issue. At our practice, Dr. Schultz offers treatment for snoring and sleep apnea. Please contact us today to learn more about our treatment options.
Sleep Apnea Risks and Side Effects
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health risks. Some of these risks are:
- Heart disease
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Impaired concentration
- Driving and work-related accidents
Other side effects of sleep apnea include headaches, forgetfulness, depression, irritability, and a decreased sex drive. Treatment can help to alleviate these critical issues and allow patients to achieve a more restful sleep.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment
Our dentist, Dr. Schultz, can treat sleep apnea with a custom-made snoring prevention device called the Silent Nite which, when worn during sleep, repositions the lower jaw forward and opens the airway to reduce the air velocity and soft tissue shuddering that causes snoring. Such devices eliminate snoring for most people. Models of the upper and lower teeth are custom-fabricated; the upper and lower forms are attached to each other on each side by special connectors which hold the lower jaw in a forward position.
The Silent Nite device does not interfere with oral breathing nor does it immobilize the jaw. Small movements of the jaw are possible and minimize temporomandibular joint stiffness in the morning. With the elimination of snoring, sleep is deeper and more restful for both the snorer and his or her family members.
Please contact Dr. Schultz about the Silent Nite device if you or someone in your family has a snoring problem.