Should I Worry If I Snore?
While snoring is common, it is neither safe nor normal. Over 80 million Americans experience some level of snoring on a regular basis. This comprises 40% to 60% of the population. Over 70% of those cases involve loud snoring that can signal a health problem of a much more serious nature known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The term “apnea” literally means “without breath.” Those who suffer with this disorder are experiencing brief moments of suffocation that can last up to ten seconds. It is very common for “sleep apnea” sufferers to experience hundreds of these “without breath” moments each night while they sleep. The reason they are “without breath” is that there is a mechanical obstruction of the airway. As air passes through an airway that is obstructed by soft tissue, it produces a gentle, or not so gentle, vibration that we know as snoring. This obstruction to the passage of air reduces the flow of oxygen to the lungs and brain.
Sleep Apnea Produces Physical Strain for Your Body
When there are repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, the oxygen saturation of the blood is lowered which results in high blood pressure. Deep, restful sleep occurs when there is decreased systematic activity in the body. When the heart is never allowed to have this rest, extra stress is placed on the heart and serious heart related diseases can occur.
It is nearly impossible to lose weight if you have sleep apnea due to the vicious cycle produced by a hormonal imbalance. First, a lack of restful sleep causes the hormone that signals to the brain that one is full (known as Leptin) to decrease dramatically. Next, the hormone that signals hunger to the brain (known as Ghrelin) increases significantly. The cycle caused by this hormonal imbalance causes an increased consumption of calories and often poor nutritional choices. This, of course, leads to additional weight gain.
By Only Treating Snoring, a Silent Killer is Created
If we were to treat the snoring and ignore the underlying health issues, it would be akin to turning off the fire alarm and pretending that there was no fire. In other words, snoring is simply a symptom. The fire, or the real problem, is the undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea.
If you have ever seen an advertisement for a snoring mouthpiece, it can be tempting to be satisfied with that solution. They are inexpensive and effective in eliminating the snoring. The only problem is that the treatment is far from complete. These mouthpieces basically move the lower jaw forward to eliminate the snoring. What they don’t do is assess the airway and deal with the true cause of the snoring. In fact, they can even make the restriction of the airway worse and magnify the actual sleep apnea. At Genuine Family Dentistry, Dr. Paul Athanasius and his staff will custom fit an oral appliance for you to treat the sleep apnea based on your exact airway.
If your rest is hindered by sleep apnea, be aware that an over-the-counter snoring device will simply turn off the alarm while ignoring the fire. You need to get a proper diagnosis of this dangerous health condition and treatment plan by an expert in the field.
Sleep Apnea Assessment
How Can I Tell If I Have Sleep Apnea?
There are several common indicators of sleep apnea:
- Persistent and loud snoring
- Persistent pauses in your breathing while you sleep, often accompanied by choking and gasping events (obviously, you may need the help of a friend or family member to observe you while you sleep)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness or dozing off on a regular basis
If you are concerned that you may have sleep apnea, you can start by taking our free online sleep apnea risk assessment. If your score suggests a high risk of sleep apnea, the office at Genuine Family Dentistry will contact you. We will schedule a simple test (insurance covered) for a definitive diagnosis. We can let you know if sleep apnea is at the root of your snoring symptoms.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
Two main options are available for the treatment of sleep apnea:
- CPAP provides assistance in breathing for people with severe sleep apnea.
- Dental oral appliances are commonly used as an effective treatment for those with mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. While CPAP is the most effective treatment in more severe cases, many users struggle to use the breathing device while they sleep and eventually stop using it. Dental oral appliances are an effective alternative that is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Dr. Paul Athanasius and his staff at Genuine Family Dentistry are experts in the field of sleep medicine. They are equipped with both the knowledge and the instruments to diagnose and treat your sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea is a medical condition, oral appliances are covered by medical health insurance. As always, your out-of-pocket costs will vary based on your exact policy terms.
If You Think You Have Sleep Apnea, Here Is Why You Should Choose Genuine Family Dentistry
Oral appliances that deal with sleep apnea are only approved by the FDA when they are prescribed and fitted by a dentist with training in sleep medicine. Dr. Paul Athanasius and his entire staff are trained and equipped in the field of sleep medicine. We can answer your questions about sleep apnea whether you are wanting to take the home test or you are seeking an alternative to your CPAP.
We have already changed many lives for the better through the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. We would be thrilled to change yours as well! We can help you enjoy better breathing, better sleep, and a better life. We can get you started right away. Are you ready to be healthier? Are you ready to have more energy? Are you ready to improve the quality of your life? Are you ready to eliminate the serious health risks that are linked to sleep apnea? Take the free online risk assessment and then give us a call. Let us deliver the life-changing treatment that we know is possible!