What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep disorder that deprives the body of oxygen and increases the risk of serious health issues. It is the involuntary cessation of breath while sleeping. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing as many as hundreds of times per night, sometimes for a full minute or longer.
There are three types of sleep apnea: central, obstructive, and mixed. Central sleep apnea, the least common form, occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common of all three types, is caused by blockage of the airways. This is usually the result of the collapse of the tongue and soft tissue in the rear throat. Mixed sleep apnea occurs when patients show symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Signs of sleep apnea may include extreme snoring, obesity, chronic fatigue, frequent awakening out-of-breath during the night, recurrent headaches and dry mouth in the morning. These symptoms won’t be present for every person all the time. Only a sleep study can determine the presence, type, and severity of sleep apnea.
At Sedation and Implant Dentistry of Tehachapi in Kern County, we work closely with doctors to provide treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) through the use of customized oral appliances that help keep airways open during sleep. If you suspect that there may be something more to your snoring, fatigue or morning headaches, speak to a doctor or one of our dental professionals.
It could be a matter of urgency. Regardless of the root cause of sleep apnea, if left untreated, all types can lead to the following serious health conditions.
If you have sleep apnea, you know how hard it is to get a good night’s sleep. But irritability and grogginess are not the worst that can happen with sleep impairment. Studies have shown that poor sleep quality increases the risk of high blood pressure. Frequent nighttime awakening and low blood-oxygen levels put those with obstructive sleep apnea at high risk for resistant hypertension, which does not respond to most medicines.
Hypertensive heart disease is the number one cause of death associated with high blood pressure. High blood pressure means the heart has to work to keep up. This thickens the heart muscle, and untreated, it may cause heart failure. Statistics show that obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140% and coronary heart disease by 30%.
While it may seem strange that a sleep disorder should have anything to do with weight, sleep apnea does. Obesity, in fact, can be both a cause and an effect of sleep apnea. To start, as many as two thirds of people with sleep apnea are overweight. In many cases, the extra fatty deposits in the neck block the airways at night. The lack of quality sleep can also add to the weight gain by slowing metabolism and increasing the hormones that make you crave carbohydrates and sweets.
Your body needs sleep. Your body needs oxygen. And when a disorder like sleep apnea deprives you of both, your health is at risk. Hypertension is the single most important risk factor for stroke. It can also lead to and complicate serious diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease. Adult asthma, acid reflux, and any number of other health complications can also arise from untreated sleep apnea. In addition to these, sleep apnea more than doubles the risk for car accidents.
Treating Sleep Apnea
If you or your loved one have experienced any of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, please ask your doctor about doing a sleep study and getting treatment right away. Once you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and your doctor gives you a prescription for oral appliance therapy, come see us. Dr. Sanchez will examine your teeth, jaw, tongue and airways, and help determine the best oral appliance for you.
At Sedation and Implant Dentistry of Tehachapi, your health matters to us. Please contact us if you have any questions about sleep apnea or oral appliance therapy. Once your sleep apnea is treated, you’ll finally get that good night’s sleep you need to operate at optimum health. Schedule an appointment at out Tehachapi dental office online or by calling (661) 822-3727.