At Overmeyer Family Dental, we often treat patients who have issues with snoring or those who wake up at night gasping for air. To me, sleep apnea is one of the most misunderstood conditions in dentistry. People often believe that sleep apnea and simple snoring are the same, but that’s far from the truth. Our culture also loves to poke fun at people who snore.
So, today I want to share some facts about sleep apnea that might surprise you. We can learn a great deal from studying the way we sleep. It’s a fact that sleep issues are connected to your mental and overall health. Continue reading to see the dangers of sleep apnea and to learn how we can treat your problems.
How does sleep apnea work?
Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when the airway is blocked during sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway. With a blocked airway, you do not get enough oxygen while you sleep. Some patients with sleep apnea will wake up gasping for air several times a night. This can cause restless sleep and even daytime fatigue.
Sleep apnea affects about 1 out of 5 people. Sleep apnea is a widespread problem in this country. It’s estimated that about 18 million people in the United States are living with sleep apnea — and not all of those people even know they have a problem.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
While snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea, if you snore, it doesn’t mean that you definitely have sleep apnea. Many people with sleep apnea face problems like morning headaches, daytime fatigue or sleepiness even after 8 or 10 hours of sleep, and even difficulty concentrating.
Who’s at risk of sleep apnea?
Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea than women, but this doesn’t mean that women are immune to sleep apnea. Women face a higher risk of sleep apnea if they are overweight or going through hormonal changes like menopause. In general, men and women face a higher risk of sleep apnea if they:
• Smoke or use tobacco
• Are overweight
• Have large neck sizes (17 inches in men or 16 inches in women)
• Have a family history of sleep apnea
• Have a narrow airway
How can we fix sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that our Orlando dental office can address. If left untreated, sleep apnea can affect your overall health and even be deadly. There is no age requirements for sleep apnea treatment. At Overmeyer Family Dental, we assess patients for the common signs of sleep apnea. We can even set up a sleep study to achieve a more precise sleep apnea diagnosis.
Sleep apnea is commonly treated with a CPAP machine. This machine is worn at night and constantly pushes air into the lungs, making sure that you are getting enough oxygen. The biggest issue with a CPAP machine is that it can be uncomfortable to wear at night, and the compliance rate is only about 50 percent.
As an alternative to the CPAP, we offer comfortable oral appliances. The oral appliances fit comfortably over the bottom teeth and position the jaw forward. With the jaw in a better position, your airway stays open while your sleep. These oral appliances are easy to fashion, and our patient get use to the treatment within a few days.
If you find yourself waking up exhausted or you’ve been told your snore loud enough to wake the dead, you need to call our office today at (407) 603-3839 to schedule a sleep apnea assessment.