If you or a loved one snore a lot, it could be a symptom of sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition, though your dentist can treat it. You would hardly be alone: as many as 92% of middle-aged men and 83% of middle-aged women suffer from this to some degree, but few know it.
Snoring is caused when the tongue and muscles in the roof of the mouth and throat relax when we sleep and may block the airway. Breathing in and out results in the snoring sound. A quarter of adult women, 40% of men, and 10% of children are frequent snorers. Ordinary snoring can impact your health because it causes the mouth to become dry and inadequate saliva means harmful bacteria are not washed away, resulting in cavities and gum infections.
An apnea is a pause for a breath, perhaps several, which occurs while sleeping and can last up to 90 seconds and occur over and over, causing oxygen deprivation. If you have sleep apnea, you might have one more of these symptoms:
- Waking up choking and gasping for breath.
- On waking, feeling you have a mouthful of cotton balls (“cotton mouth”).
- Sore throats.
- Morning migraine headaches.
- Chest pain during the during the night.
- Inability to concentrate and poor memory.
- Slow reaction time.
- Frequent need to urinate after going to bed.
- High blood pressure.
- Drowsiness during the day.
- Lowered sex drive.
- Depression and anxiety.
Sleep apnea sufferers also have a higher risk for stroke, heart attacks, and Alzheimer’s disease. Apneas partially awaken the individual without him or her even being aware, and disturbing the sleep can have other consequences. Sleep deprivation causes 100,000 auto accidents a year and 1,600 deaths. The risk of injury or death on the job is much greater. There is also a greater likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
There are two kinds of this problem: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), due to a large tongue or soft tissue in the upper throat, and central sleep apnea (CSA), which the brain fails to transmit a signal to the muscles that control breathing.
The conventional medical treatment is wearing an expensive device called a CPAP with a mask, which requires the individual to lie on the back all night, something that makes many people uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the sleep apnea experts at SleepApeneaLA.com and the Wilshire Smile Studio can provide you with a much more comfortable and less expensive oral appliance that is custom-made and FDA-approved to keep the jaw in a position to prevent apneas. It is usually covered by insurance plans. If minor surgery is required for OSA, it can be provided by our oral surgeon.
For a diagnostic consultation, call 323-DENTIST (336-8478).