Breathing & Disordered Sleep
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common condition where you have pauses in your breathing (apnea) or excessively shallow breathing (hypopnea) while you sleep. These pauses can occur as often as 30x or more in an hour. Normal breathing restarts with a gasping, snorting or choking sound. This results in poor sleep quality or light sleep which may lead to daytime drowsiness and other health problems including high blood pressure and heart disease.
Sleep apnea may be prevented from as early as childhood, as underdeveloped jaw bones have a high relationship in the development of obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea treatment has three “legs” to consider: ie. Mechanical (growth and development), physiological (diet, lifestyle, weight) and psychological (emotional/sleep hygiene).
If you have apnea when sleeping, not enough oxygen flows to your lungs and the level of oxygen in your blood drops. In the long term, the low levels of blood oxygen cause the release of stress hormones in your body, causing a state of inflammation. This puts you at risk for the following conditions:
Higher risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes
- Higher risk of heart failure, or worsening of heart failure
- More likely to develop heart arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeat
- Increase the risk of work related or driving accidents up to 8 times
- Shorter lifespan of 58 years on average (much lower than the average lifespan of 78 years for men and 83 years for women)
Do I have obstructive sleep apnea?
Follow the below “self-assessment” by answering each of the following yes or no:
- S – Do you SNORE loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
- T – Do you often feel TIRED, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
- O – Has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing during your sleep?
- P – Do you have or are you being treated for high blood PRESSURE?
- B – BMI more than 35?
- A – AGE over 50 years old?
- N – NECK circumference > 15.75 inches?
- G – Male GENDER?
OSA – Low Risk : Yes to 0 – 2 questions
OSA – Intermediate Risk : Yes to 3 – 4 questions
OSA – High Risk : Yes to 5 – 8 questions
or Yes to 2 or more of 4 STOP questions + male gender
or Yes to 2 or more of 4 STOP questions + BMI > 35kg/m2
or Yes to 2 or more of 4 STOP questions + neck circumference 17 inches / 43cm in male or 16 inches / 41cm in female
Sleep - Oral Health, General Health - And Your Dentist
Sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD) affect general health in a most fundamental way; there is nothing like a good night’s sleep and the feeling of awakening refreshed, re-energized and invigorated — ready to face a new day. Because dentists see patients on a regular maintenance schedule during wellness dental and dental hygiene care, they are in a unique position to identify early SRBDs. They may also identify sleep disorders by observing “snorers in dental chair” where patients fall asleep within a short time at dental appointments.
Properly trained Dentists are familiar with the mouth, oral cavity and parts of the upper airway and can screen components of the airway. SRBD is a societal epidemic with far reaching consequences both medically and psychosocially as well as carrying an enormous economic burden. Properly trained dentists have been acknowledged by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), as being able to provide first line therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Only dentists are able to fabricate, fit, adjust, monitor, and treat complications associated with Oral Appliance Therapy, used in managing certain cases of SRBD.
Having a problem sleeping or snoring? Tell your dentist!!!
Normal Anatomy & Function
Your upper airway is open and unobstructed allowing air to flow from your nose, through your throat and into your lungs.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
During sleep, gravity and muscle relaxation allows the tongue and surrounding soft tissues to fall back into the throat area obstructing air flow.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Your upper airway is open and unobstructed allowing air to flow from your nose, through your throat and into your lungs. Treatment dependent on diagnosis.
A potential lifesaving and life changing option for the treatment of sleep apnea in certain cases. Treatment dependent on diagnosis.
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