Better Sleep for Better Health
Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans. It interrupts sound sleep, and it can endanger the health of the afflicted individual. Snoring is the number one sign of apnea. Many heavy snorers actually have obstructive sleep apnea and do not realize it.
At Lynn Dental Care, we offer non-invasive apnea screening and a comfortable convenient alternative to cumbersome CPAP therapy. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with apnea or has a chronic snoring problem, you are encouraged to contact us at Lynn Dental Care and schedule an appointment with Dr. Lynn.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Apnea is a condition that causes individuals to stop breathing during sleep. When breathing ceases, the blood-oxygen saturation drops. This deprives the vital organs, including the brain, of oxygen triggering a “fight or flight response.” The individual awakens, at least partially, and resumes breathing.
There are two types of apnea. In rare cases, it results from the brain failing to send the appropriate signals instructing the body to breathe. This condition is known as central sleep apnea. The much more common type is caused by a physical obstruction of the airway. It is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It may come from a nasal blockage, excess tissue in the throat, enlarged tonsils, a small airway, or other similar conditions.
Risks of Sleep Apnea
A good night’s sleep (every night) is important for good health. Your brain and body rest and rejuvenate during the deeper phases of sleep. Unfortunately, an individual with apnea rarely reaches or maintains deep sleep. Even if one does not fully awaken during an apneic event, the sleep cycle is disrupted. Poor quality, fragmented sleep leads to chronic fatigue, irritability, difficulty focusing, increased risk of auto accidents and more. In children, poor sleep actually causes hyperactivity.
Beyond the lost sleep, routine oxygen deprivation (even in short increments) has a negative impact on the body. Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems, stroke, cancer, and more.
Signs and Symptoms
Snoring is considered a red flag. Like obstructive apnea, it is caused by a physical blockage of the airway. However, when a person is snoring they are taking in air and exhaling. The problem is many people with apnea are unaware of the pause in breathing that comes before the snoring. Not everyone who snores has apnea, but it is a potential warning sign.
Other symptoms include:
- Frequent morning headaches
- Short term memory problems
- Lack of focus
- Poor judgment
Snoring is annoying but relatively harmless (except to relationships). Apnea is a serious medical condition. Unfortunately, since you are sleeping when either event occurs, it is impossible to tell the difference without a test. Naturally, most people are not enthusiastic about spending the night in a sleep laboratory for an official study. At Lynn Dental Care, we offer a comfortable, convenient screening process, which is completed in the comfort of your own home. If the results show that you are likely to be afflicted with apnea, we can help you arrange a diagnostic study.
Treatment Options at Lynn Dental Care
Sleep physicians typically prescribe CPAP for their patients. This is an effective therapy, using a machine to force air into the airway via tubes and a mask. If you think this sounds uncomfortable and cumbersome, you are not alone. A large percentage of apnea patients can’t tolerate CPAP. Many more use their machines only occasionally. At Lynn Dental Care, we are proud to offer a comfortable, convenient alternative to CPAP.
A small oral appliance used to hold the airway open, can effectively bring relief to most patients with mild to moderate apnea. Appliance therapy has even been successful for many people with severe apnea, who can’t or won’t use CPAP.
There are hundreds of types of appliances on the market. We offer different styles at Lynn Dental Care because each patient has unique needs. However, we choose only the highest quality appliances, for optimal comfort and effectiveness. One of Dr. Lynn’s favorites is the SUAD™ Ultra Elite Device. It is designed to move the lower jaw forward comfortably, which allows tissues to relax and the airway to open. Most apnea patients are good candidates for this device, and it is exceptionally lightweight, effective, and comfortable to wear. As always, in our office, you won’t have to gag through an impression to have an appliance made. With iTero Digital Impression System, it’s as comfortable as having a picture taken!