Can Snore Guards Effectively Treat Sleep Apnea?
Not all snoring is a result of sleep apnea, but statistics show that nine percent of women and 28 percent of men age 40 to 60 in the general population have some form of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). With sleep apnea, you repeatedly start and stop breathing while you sleep. This disorder not only disrupts your rest, but could also result in far more serious problems. If you are an habitual snorer, or if you have a partner who habitually snores and/or stops breathing periodically while sleeping, you need to consult with a professional about sleep apnea as soon as possible. Your dentist, Dr. Ira Morrow, is a great place to start!
What is Sleep Apnea?
There are actually three categories of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea and Mixed Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA is the most common condition, and it occurs when muscles in the throat and mouth relax and sag while you sleep. This relaxation obstructs the airway, literally stopping your regular breathing patterns. With this, the diaphragm and chest strain from the lack of oxygen, and the stress often unblocks the airway resulting in a loud snore, choking sounds or a gasp. This is a more serious condition because the fluctuations in airflow causes oxygen levels in the blood to drop, the blood pressure to rise and irregular heartbeats. In turn, you are at a greater risk of heart disease, stroke and complications with certain medications or during surgery.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
CSA is less common, however it is not as severe as OSA. CSA happens because the muscles do not get proper signals from the brain and though the airway is completely unobstructed, the chest and lungs fail to function. The interruption in airflow triggers the alarm in the brain and prompts a gasping reaction. But, because there is no obstruction, this type of sleep apnea is not accompanied by snoring.
Mixed Sleep Apnea
If you suffer from both OSA and CSA, the condition is called mixed sleep apnea.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Though sleep apnea often manifests with severe snoring, there are other conditions you should watch for. They include:
- Night sweats
- Impaired concentration
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Mood changes
- Morning headaches or dry mouth
- Please see the chart below for more symptoms
When Should I Talk to My Dentist About Sleep Apnea?
Though your dentist is not able to diagnose sleep apnea, he can watch for common signs and symptoms of the disorder in relation to your oral health and medical history. Then, if he is concerned, he will direct you to a sleep specialist for a full and proper diagnosis. Then he can work in tandem with your healthcare provider to discern the right treatment plan to meet your individual needs.
What are Sleep Apnea Treatment Options?
Treatments for OSA are as varied as the underlying causes and include:
- Behavioral modification. The doctor might recommend you lose weight or quit smoking as a treatment for OSA. He or she might suggest sleeping on your side, and avoiding alcohol and sedatives at bedtime. Unfortunately, these lifestyles changes do not suit everyone.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) The CPAP machine is a breathing device which forces the airway open while you sleep. It works for moderate and severe cases of OSA, but despite the advantages, it does take a long time to get accustomed to the device, and some patients simply cannot tolerate it.
- Oral appliance therapy (OAT). This is why you need Dr. Morrow. If you suffer from mild to moderate OSA, then many sleep specialists can recommend dental devices to help keep your airway open. They look like night guards, and you will need to wear them every night.
Am I a Good Candidate for Oral Appliance Therapy?
Every patient is unique, and the only real way to know is by setting up an evaluation with Dr. Morrow. However, OAT is most appropriate for patients who do not respond well to or are intolerant of other devices.
Choosing Dr. Morrow for OSA Treatment
When it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea with oral appliances you need a dentist who has a working knowledge of the underlying causes, clinical complexities and physical limitations of each patient and knowledge of the numerous approved appliances.
Do you snore, or do you have a partner that snores? Did you know that 45 percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and that 25 percent are habitual snorers? Statistically, problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight people and it typically worsens with age. It is important to note that snoring may be an indication of obstructed breathing and should not be taken lightly. If you have noticed symptoms of obstructed sleep apnea (OSA), it is time to talk with Dr. Morrow about diagnosis and sleep apnea treatment. Give us a call today at (914) 476-4040 or visit us in our office in Yonkers, NY, in Westchester County.