Sleep Apnea

The amount of sleep we get is important; we should wake up feeling refreshed and alert and not need midday naps. How much we sleep changes as we grow older, but the importance of sleep remains the same.

Many of us take sleep for granted until we don't get enough of it. A good night's rest is vital to overall good health, but many of us steal from our rest by working late, having active lifestyles, or other reasons. When we still don't feel rested after a full night's sleep, we start diminishing our quality of life and happiness.

Sleep apnea is a common health condition, and it might come as a surprise that many people who suffer from it have no idea they have it. Snoring is one of the more common symptoms of sleep apnea, but not all people who snore have the condition. Often a sleep partner is the one who alerts sufferers that they might have sleep apnea.

Do you think you might have a sleep disorder that is preventing you from catching up on your rest? Your dentist, Dr. Peter Suh, and his entire dental team can diagnose and treat your sleep disorder after an initial dental examination. It is vital that sleep apnea is identified and cared for because it can be a life-shortening and dangerous health condition, linked to many debilitating health conditions.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition wherein the upper airway is repeatedly blocked while a person sleeps, meaning airflow is reduced or stopped altogether. It is an involuntary cessation of breath, and gets its name from the Greek word "apnea," meaning "without breath."

There are three forms of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive (OSA) is the most common form, but all three are similar in that patients stop breathing regularly throughout their sleep.

In many cases, the patient is unaware that their sleep is compromised since they don't fully wake up. We must diagnose and treat sleep apnea because it can be a dangerous condition that is fraught with complications, including an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Sleep apnea is as common as type 2 diabetes, affecting more than 18 million adult Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Patients who are male, over the age of 40, and overweight are at higher risk for sleep apnea, but anyone can have it at any age.

Most people with sleep apnea never know they have it and so remained undiagnosed and untreated for their entire lives. It's important to treat sleep apnea before it develops into a severe health disorder.

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, call The Dental Care Center in Van Nuys, CA to find out about getting treatment. Dr. Suh and his dental staff are all available to heal your oral health problems. 

Why People Snore

When a person cannot move air freely through their nose and throat while sleeping, snoring is the result. Snoring makes the soft and hard tissues vibrate, which gives us the familiar sound.

Some people are more prone to snoring than others, and it can be exacerbated by alcohol, smoking, a deviated septum, hypothyroidism, and other health problems. Especially loud snorers might even have blocked air passages, which is called obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring Versus Sleep Apnea

Plenty of people snore, and it is nothing more than an annoyance to their sleep partner. But if snoring is present with other symptoms, they might have obstructive sleep apnea. Here are some of the signs to look for:

  • You stop breathing several times during the night
  • You gasp for air after the breathing pauses
  • You wake up abruptly numerous times during the night
  • You notice a lack of libido
  • You are tired throughout the day despite being in bed for seven or eight hours the night before
  • You are often irritable and depressed
  • You wake up with headaches, a sore throat, or a dry mouth
  • You sweat at night
  • You have mood changes, like depression, throughout the day
  • You have difficulty concentrating during the day

Many people may find snoring to be an irritating and funny annoyance, but it can be a sign of something serious. We invite you to talk to your Van Nuys dentist if you have loud snoring, are chronically fatigued, and irritable.

What Is the Cause for Sleep Apnea?

The causes of obstructive sleep apnea can be obesity, age, loose tissue in the throat, and other issues. This condition is more common in men. Many variables can increase the odds of sleep apnea, like consuming alcohol, medications, smoking, genetics, and more. Smokers may be more at risk of developing sleep apnea more often than non-smokers, and people with a history of sleep disorders in their family may be likely to have it.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, here are some helpful tips on how you can manage your condition:

  • No coffee before sleep! While a nighttime cappuccino sounds fun, the caffeine may keep you stimulated 
  • Eating a lot of food before sleep can keep you awake
  • Exercise as much as you can
  • No more smoking or tobacco products
  • Eating healthy and nutritious foods can help you lose weight
  • Try to maintain a regular sleep pattern 
  • Alcohol often leads to snoring

Why It's Important to Treat Your Sleep Apnea

Snoring is never pleasant in any situation, but if it's linked to sleep apnea, it could indicate possible health complications, including:

  • Heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Hypertension
  • Dementia
  • Impotence
  • Stroke
  • Gum disease
  • Acid reflux
  • Drowsiness when driving

At The Dental Care Center, we want all of our patients to enjoy a happy, stress-free, and safe life. We take your sleep seriously! Your dentist in Van Nuys, CA is always available to answer questions or address oral health concerns.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

One of the most common methods of treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP therapy has a high rate of success when patients use it consistently.

Unfortunately, many people find the CPAP machine to be uncomfortable to use while sleeping, so they stop using it, and their sleep apnea goes untreated. For those patients who are dealing with reasonably moderate cases of sleep apnea, there are other options available.

Your dentist can talk to you about a mandibular advancement device that resembles a mouth guard used by athletes. This device helps keep the airway open by positioning the lower jaw down and slightly forward. Another device resembles a splint, which keeps the tongue in the correct position so that it doesn't block the airway.

Some of our patients combine different sleep therapies in Van Nuys, and appliances to overcome snoring and lesser quality sleep. At The Dental Care Center, we work alongside our patients to create the most efficient sleep treatment plan.

Don't Suffer From Sleep Apnea

Is your relationship suffering because of your loud snoring? Do you find yourself more irritable in the morning than anyone else in your office? If people tend to avoid you before noon, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder. 

If you think you are suffering from sleep apnea in Van Nuys, call your dentist at The Dental Care Center. We can help diagnose you and provide treatment options if you have sleep apnea. We want you and your partner to get a good night's sleep. Make an appointment today!