Snoring has been compared to a lot of things — buzzsaws, freight trains, even a wounded warthog.
We know that everyone snores sometimes, but some of us snore a lot more often and a lot louder than others. If you don’t know if you are one of those people, ask your partner or another family member. He or she will tell you.
Snoring that shakes the walls and never seems to stop may be a symptom of sleep apnea, a condition that can seriously affect your health. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, but 80 percent of those cases remain undiagnosed.
That means 4 out of every 5 people with sleep apnea do not know it, and most likely are doing nothing to treat it.
Be the 1 out of 5 who is treating the condition. Talk to one of the dentists at Beaumont Family Dentistry in Lexington. We can help you and your loved ones sleep better.
Sleep apnea can be dangerous
A study originally published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine highlighted how dangerous sleep apnea can be.
The four researchers, included two Ph.Ds and two medical doctors, evaluated crash data from seven databases to see how frequently individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are involved in accidents. They looked at data on 368,000 accidents involving commercial truck drivers.
By the end, they concluded that untreated sleep apnea was a “significant contributor” to motor vehicle accidents. Their data indicated that drivers with untreated sleep apnea were up to four times more likely to be involved in a crash that drivers without sleep apnea.
Some of the possible reasons for this are increased daytime sleepiness, low levels of oxygen in the blood, and a high body mass index. All of these are more common in people with sleep apnea.
The snoring associated with sleep apnea can be annoying to others, but if you allow your sleep apnea to remain untreated, you may be putting yourself and others at risk.
Diagnosing sleep apnea
You should undergo a sleep study if you suspect you may have sleep apnea. This is the best way to determine if your snoring is a symptom of apnea or something else.
Apnea comes from a Greek word meaning “without breath.” When you have this condition, you stop breathing while you sleep.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea (which is the most common form of this condition), then something is blocking your airway when you fall asleep. In many cases, this blockage is caused when the soft tissues of your throat become relaxed while you are asleep.
Snoring is your body’s way of waking you up briefly so you can breathe. This means you rarely get the kind of deep sleep you need.
In the morning, you may still feel tired. This is because you are suffering from sleep deprivation. And that is proven to be connected to increased risks of diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure, strokes, and weight gain.
Sleep apnea isn’t something you should take lightly. Treating it may reduce your risk of other health problems as well.
What your dentist can do
Obstructive sleep apnea is most commonly treated with a CPAP machine. CPAP is short for continuous positive airway pressure.
Users wear a mask that blows air into his or her throat. This keeps the users’ airways open so they can breathe while they sleep. The mask is a problem for many people with sleep apnea, however.
Many people find it uncomfortable. As a result they do not use their CPAP, which means their sleep apnea is not being treated.
There is an alternative to CPAP machines for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Since 2006, oral appliances have been approved as a way to treat sleep apnea.
Our own Dr. Takacs belongs to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. She also completed a residency on sleep medicine at Tufts University.
She can use that knowledge and training to create a custom sleep appliance that you can wear while you sleep. For many patients who can’t or won’t use the CPAP machine and its mask, a mouthpiece is the next best option for treating the symptoms of their sleep apnea.
If you are tired of feeling tired, please talk one of our dental professionals or your primary care physician. If you have sleep apnea, we want to help you sleep better.
Call us to learn more about how custom-fitted mouthpiece could be the difference between you keeping your spouse awake and everyone in your household sleeping through the night.