Here at Arima Dental Care, we work hard to help our patients who have sleep apnea.
People who have sleep apnea never get the rest that they deserve. They have trouble breathing which constantly wakes them up throughout the night.
Many people who have sleep apnea have multiple health problems. They are always exhausted. Being tired can affect people at home and at work. They may be miserable and have trouble concentrating. Sleep apnea can also affect their blood pressure, making them more likely to have strokes. There is a big risk with anesthesia since they have trouble breathing.
There are some devices that can be helpful with sleep apnea. They help patients by keeping their airways open at night. There is also a procedure that can be performed if you have extra tissue in your throat. It reshapes your throat so that you can breathe much better.
If you have any questions about how we can help you with your sleep apnea, feel free to contact us today at (650) 573-0628.
Sleep Apnea / Snoring
Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone, although it tends to occur more frequently in men, and people who are overweight. Snoring has a tendency to worsen with age.
WHAT CAUSES SNORING?
Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. Air flow can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:
Obstructed nasal airways: Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps can also cause obstruction.
Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption, and use of some sleeping pills. Normal aging causes further relaxation of these muscles.
Bulky throat tissue: Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.
Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.
Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for your bed partner. However, if you are a habitual snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you (some call this “secondhand snoring”), but you also impair your own sleep quality. Assistance is often needed for habitual snorers (and their loved ones) to get a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes snoring is just one of the symptoms to a serious medical condition known as Sleep Apnea. This is a condition where a person, during sleep stops breathing, anywhere from a few seconds to 10 seconds or more. The person may not be aware of this condition. But if there is any suspicion, he should be evaluated by a qualified physician.
Dental Sleep Medicine
Sleep apnea was always a problem; we just didn’t have the resources readily available for testing and diagnosis. Now, there are sleep labs or accredited sleep centers to run tests for evaluation. This increase in diagnostic capabilities has lead to better, more accurate diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Snoring is caused primarily by vibration of the tissues of the oropharynx and the soft palate. Snoring may be benign (other than disturbing the sleep of the bed partner). It may fragment the person’s sleep. Or it may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which can be life-threatening.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissues of the oropharynx collapse during sleep and block the airway. A complete blockage for 10 seconds or more is referred to as an apnea. A reduction of airflow by 30-50% is referred to as a hypopnea. The level of a person’s obstructive sleep apnea is measured by how many apneas and how many hypopneas occur per hour. This is referred to as the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI).
The treatment of obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP consists of a mask that goes over your nose and mouth with a hose attached to a machine that delivers positive air pressure during your sleep. Unfortunately, about 10% of patients who are diagnosed with OSA are not willing to try CPAP. Of those who do try CPAP, between 20 and 40% give up within the first year. The reasons for giving up on CPAP include difficulty finding a mask that fits well, mask leak, air leaking through the mouth, skin reaction to the mask, problems with the straps that hold on the mask, bed partner complaints due to the noise of the system, claustrophobia, dry nose or mouth, sinus problems, and even dental problems.
For those who do not, or are unable to use CPAP, we can help. According to guidelines published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, oral appliance therapy is indicated as a first-line therapy in mild to moderate sleep apnea and is also indicated in severe sleep apnea when a patient has failed CPAP. Surgery is generally not indicated with OSA and palatal surgeries are rarely successful.
The principles behind oral appliance therapy are simple. The patient’s airway is blocked due to the tongue falling into the throat while the patient is sleeping. The oral appliance keeps the lower jaw forward during sleep. There are appliances that we can employ to achieve the desired result—which is reduction of the apneas and hypopneas to less than 10 events per hour.
There is NO WAY to tell with certainty by looking at someone if they are just a snorer or if they have severe sleep apnea. Accurate diagnosis is the key, and this is best performed by a medical doctor.
As a Dentist, we can help you by screening and seeing signs of sleep disorder such that you may benefit by referral to a sleep center for evaluation by a medical doctor. Should you have concerns, please feel free to give us a call.