Tens of millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
Yet, a majority of people with this condition have never been diagnosed — much less been treated — according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.
In spite of the jokes about loud snoring, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder, and it can contribute to long-term health problems. It’s not just a coincidence that people with sleep apnea are more likely to have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
You may not think of a dentist office as the first place to go to get help for a sleep problem, but our team at Galleria of Smiles can help you get tested and get treated for obstructive sleep apnea.
Are You At Risk?
Before we get too deep into this, we need to be clear about something. Anyone — regardless of age, size, shape, or gender — can have sleep apnea. The risk factors we will be listing later do make you more likely to have this condition, however.
Before we discuss those risk factors, we want to remind you of the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Loud and persistent snoring is the most common symptom. The next best-known symptom is the breathing stoppages that are the defining trait of sleep apnea. These also happen to be things that your spouse or significant other may be more aware of than you are.
Other symptoms of untreated sleep apnea include morning headaches, trouble concentrating on tasks or projects, fatigue, and frequent daytime sleepiness.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, then you should schedule a consultation with one of our dentists soon. The sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner you can start your treatment.
Now, here are some of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea:
✔ BEING OVERWEIGHT
Carrying extra weight can cause sleep apnea or make existing apnea worse. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a patient’s airway becomes blocked when he or she falls asleep.
This can occur for a number of reasons. Extra weight, particularly in and around the neck, can press into the airway causing it to become blocked. Losing weight may alleviate the severity of your condition.
People who smoke are three times more likely to have sleep apnea than nonsmokers.
Smoking can lead to fluid retention in your upper airway. It also can cause inflammation. Both of those things can interfere with your breathing, so that’s just another of the many reasons to avoid or to give up cigarettes.
✔ USING ALCOHOL (AND OTHER SEDATIVES)
Alcohol, like other sedatives, can cause the muscles in your throat to relax. When you fall asleep, this may allow soft tissues to collapse into your airway.
✔ HAVING A NARROW AIRWAY
Just as some people are shorter than others and some people have longer arms than others, some people have narrower airways because of genetics.
✔ FAMILY HISTORY
Speaking of genetics, if sleep apnea runs in your family, then you are more likely to have it, too.
✔ BEING MALE
Women can have sleep apnea, but males are twice as likely as females to have this sleep disorder.
✔ GETTING OLDER
Fair or not, your risk for sleep apnea increases with every birthday.
Testing And Treatment
We can provide you with an ARES™ sleep device. This way you can get tested in the convenience of your own bed. A sleep doctor will examine your results to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea.
If you do, we can design a custom-made oral appliance for you to wear while you sleep. These devices adjust the position of your jaw so that you can breathe easier, sleep deeper, and snore less. Isn’t it time you experienced healthy, refreshing sleep?