When it comes to sleep apnea, the last person you thought could help you might be your dentist. With over 22 million estimated people suffering from sleep apnea and over 80 percent being undiagnosed in the nation, it’s important to understand why sleep apnea should be taken seriously. Although Dr. Roessler cannot diagnose you with sleep apnea, he can refer you to a physician to do so. He can also work hand in hand with a physician to find the correct treatment for you and your sleep apnea. Treatment will help relieve symptoms and help eliminate the serious risk factors associated with lack of treatment. Find out how our Mundelein dentist can help you find sleep apnea treatment.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Before you seek sleep apnea treatment, it’s important to understand this deadly condition. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that prevents people from breathing at a time throughout their night of sleep. There are two different types of sleep apnea: central sleep apnea and the most common, obstructive sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused due to interruptions in the breathing. These are called apneas. The airway’s soft tissue collapses and blocks the airway to prevent any oxygen from reaching the lungs.
Central sleep apnea is the result of the brain not sending messages to the body during sleep. There is no physical disruption in the airway, although the body reacts as though a disruption occurs.
Both types of sleep apnea disrupt sleep patterns and can leave people waking up feeling unrested and lethargic. When left untreated, sleep apnea can have a huge impact on both long-term and short-term physical and mental health.
Health Impacts of Sleep Apnea
Unfortunately, sleep apnea can affect more than just your sleep. Sleep apnea can increase your risk for chronic health problems as well as have a large impact on both your mental and physical health. Those who have sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, and even develop diabetes. Sleep apnea can also affect your mental health and increase the likelihood that patients suffer from depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, mood disorders and mania. There is also a link between sleep apnea and obesity and the occurrence of strokes.
Those patients who leave their sleep apnea untreated also share an increased risk of developing injuries. This is because these people are feeling extremely tired throughout the day, causing them to be less alert. Therefore, they are more prone to having accidents in the car or even at work.
High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, to begin with, sleep apnea can make it worse. When you continuously wake up throughout the night, your body starts to stress out, forcing your hormone systems to go into overdrive. This, as a result, boosts your blood pressure. It can also decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood which can make the problem even worse. Although treatment for your sleep apnea can help your blood pressure improve, we recommend continuing any blood pressure medications your doctor has you on. You should decrease the amounts per their approval.
When you have OSA, you are more likely to suffer a heart attack. The cause of a heart attack from sleep apnea is due to the low oxygen in your blood or from the stress of waking up often. In addition, atrial fibrillation and strokes can happen for the same reasons from sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, the oxygen in your body is affected which can limit the amount of blood that flows to your brain.
Type 2 Diabetes
Patients who have type 2 diabetes are more likely to have sleep apnea than patients who don’t. This is because there is a correlation between large neck circumferences and sleep apnea. To put two and two together: both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea can be caused by excess weight.
Not only does gaining weight increase your chance of developing sleep apnea, but sleep apnea makes it harder to shed weight. Overweight people develop fatty deposits in their neck that can block breathing while sleeping. In addition, sleep apnea can cause your body to release the hormone known as ghrelin. This makes your body crave carbs and sweets which are key foods that cause people to gain weight. When you’re tired quite often, it’s harder to choose healthy foods. Instead, you would prefer foods that give you instant energy like carbs and sugar, however, these lead to weight gain. With proper sleep apnea treatment in Mundelein, you will regain your energy and feel more like exercising which can help you lose weight and sleep better.
Although there hasn’t been a proven scientific link between adult asthma and sleep apnea, those who receive sleep apnea treatment seem to have fewer asthma attacks.
There isn’t a study that concludes that sleep apnea causes heartburn like acid reflux, but many sufferers of sleep apnea find that it’s a problem. When patients are treated for sleep apnea, the improvement of sleep apnea symptoms may help with acid reflux symptoms.
The last risk factor for sleep apnea is the chance that you may fall asleep at the wheel or be too tired to be alert enough to drive. Driving groggy is just as bad as drinking and driving. Those with sleep apnea are up to 5 times more likely to have traffic accidents than normal sleepers.
How You Can Help Relieve Your Sleep Apnea Symptoms
In addition to receiving an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea from our Mundelein dentist, your physician, as well as Dr. Roessler, will recommend several different suggestions for improving your sleep apnea symptoms on your own.
Our first suggestion for helping your treatment be as successful as possible is by first losing weight if you are overweight. This is because the extra fat in your neck can be the cause of your sleep apnea symptoms. It makes more sense to treat the root of the problem than to wear an oral device every night. Losing weight may be the cure to your sleep apnea while an oral device only helps treat it. Not only will losing weight help your health, and prevent heart disease, it may cure your sleep apnea.
When you drink alcohol, it causes your sleep apnea to actually be worse. This is because alcohol disrupts your sleep and causes nighttime awakenings. It also causes your upper airway breathing muscles to relax. This makes your sleep apnea even worse. Although you might think alcohol gives you a good night’s sleep, it can make your sleep apnea worse and potentially cause you to wake up feeling even more tired.
Smoking is terrible for your upper airway as it causes swelling. This can make snoring and sleep apnea even worse.
Sleep On Your Side
It’s been found that sleeping on your side is better for heavy snorers or those with mild sleep apnea. They tend to experience fewer breathing problems when sleeping on their sides instead of their back. Next time your partner is snoring, push them onto their side to see if the snoring stops.
How Your Dentist Plays a Role in Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you don’t know much about sleep apnea, you’re probably wondering how your dentist plays a role in something that is not teeth. Well, your dentist can actually provide you with the treatment that saves your life! Patients with diagnosed sleep apnea in Mundelein can turn to Roessler, DDS for their sleep apnea treatment. Dr. Roessler can take your physician’s diagnosis and then discuss your treatment options in his office. For the most part, we recommend an oral appliance to be worn while sleeping.
The most common type of oral appliance is a mandibular advancement device. This looks like a mouth guard and works by pushing the jaw forward. As it pushes your jaw forward when you are sleeping and the muscles that collapse during apneas tighten up and are unable to fall down. This, as a result, makes your airway stronger which can reduce or eliminate apneas overall. Some of these devices are adjustable which helps the patient adjust the position where their jaw sits.
Dr. Roessler will work closely with you to ensure that your oral appliance is working well and improving your symptoms. Your new device might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s important to continue using it for at least a week to see if you can get used to the feeling and if it’s improving your symptoms. Ask a friend or partner to monitor your sleep while you’re wearing it for best results.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Unfortunately, Dr. Roessler cannot diagnose your sleep apnea, he can only treat it. You will need to pay a visit to your physician for the proper test and accurate diagnosis. Diagnosing sleep apnea is actually a pretty simple task. Your doctor will need to have some sort of sleep test performed where he or she will evaluate your sleep patterns, breathing, and heart rate throughout the night. There are both in-office and take home tests you can take.
The in the office test is called a nocturnal polysomnography. This test hooks you up to equipment that monitors your brain, lung, and heart activity as well as leg and arm movements and blood oxygen levels. Your alternative test is a take-home sleep test that monitors just about the same things in addition to your airflow and breathing patterns.
Once your doctor has completed your test, he or she will be able to diagnose you with sleep apnea if you have it.
Finding the Right Treatment
Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea condition, your doctor will recommend the right treatment for you. For mild to moderate cases, he or she will recommend you visit your dentist like Dr. Roessler to be fitted for an oral appliance. In most cases, an oral appliance is a perfect solution for treating sleep apnea.
In more severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery might be needed. This can include minor surgeries like removing the tonsils or range to more severe surgeries like tissue removal in the back of the throat, jaw repositioning, implants, or even creating a new air passageway also known as a tracheostomy. Other surgeries include fixing deviated nasal septum, removing enlarged tonsils or adenoids or even weight loss surgery. Depending on the severity of your case and the cause of your sleep apnea, your doctor will recommend the right treatment for you.
One of the most common types of sleep apnea treatments out there that everyone fears needing to wear is the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This is a face mask that you must wear at night while you sleep. It’s a pressurized mask that can eliminate snoring and most importantly, prevent sleep apnea. It continuously pushes air through your throat throughout the night so you don’t stop breathing in your sleep. Your doctor can help adjust it so that it isn’t uncomfortable. We like to provide patients with oral appliances before turning to this last resort.
Find the Right Sleep Apnea Treatment for You
If you have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea in Mundelein and are looking for an oral appliance to treat it, it’s time to give Dr. Roessler a call. We can help you wake up feeling refreshed once more without an expensive or uncomfortable treatment plan. Our oral devices are custom-made to fit your mouth, give you a comfortable night’s sleep, and reduce the risk factors associated with sleep apnea. Give Dr. Roessler a call or fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch soon.