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Sleep Apnea Columbia, MD

Dentistry is not limited to the cleaning and care of teeth. One of Dr. Ray Becker’s special interests is in the treatment of sleep apnea and sleep-related breathing disorders. With his advanced training and certification, Dr. Becker can provide lasting relief from snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. Dr. Becker uses up-to-date, advanced dental care technologies to treat loud snoring and sleep apnea in Columbia, MD.

Many people snore when they sleep. However, snoring is not always a sign of a more advanced issue. In some cases, snoring can be a sign of a medical issue called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, patients may stop and start breathing throughout the night. The pauses are caused by the throat muscles collapsing and relaxing, therefore blocking the airway.

Many patients don’t even realize they have sleep apnea. However, you must seek treatment if you notice any symptoms associated with sleep apnea or your partner notices changes in your sleep patterns. Contact us if you or your partner notice snoring, gasping for breath, or making a choking sound.

Our newly renovated dental office in Columbia, MD, near you welcomes patients recently diagnosed with sleep apnea or a sleep disorder. We offer an alternative treatment to those intolerant of CPAP.

Why is Snoring a Problem?

Sleep Apnea program at Howard County Smiles

Snoring by itself is not a major medical concern. However, snoring may indicate a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Snoring occurs when the soft tissue structures of the upper airway collapse and vibrate during sleep, producing the sound known as snoring.

The prevalence of sleep apnea increases with age. Doctors estimate that as many as 50% of elderly men and women suffer from the disorder.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. Patients who suffer from OSA stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, caused by a blockage of the airway, usually caused when the soft tissue in the back of the mouth collapses. A person with sleep apnea may wake 50 or more times per hour — that’s almost once a minute! — without having any memory of it.

These awakenings, called micro-arousals, last just long enough to restore muscle tone to the airway so the individual can breathe. Unfortunately, all those micro-arousals preclude deep and restful sleep.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea: What to Look Out For

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious matter as it can lead to heart problems and other health issues. It’s possible that you may have OSA if you snore and also suffer from any of the following common symptoms of sleep apnea.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory/confusion
  • Accident proneness
  • Night sweats
  • Morning headaches or migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Waking up suddenly gasping or choking
  • Dry mouth (especially in the morning)

Anyone can develop sleep apnea. Patients should also be aware of their risk factors and determine whether they can lower their risks.

Common risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity or excessive weight
  • Small airway
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of sleep apnea

Pauses in breathing during sleep can increase your blood pressure and reduce your blood oxygen. If you have diabetes, you are at an increased risk of droppoig glucose levels if you have sleep apnea.

Bad habits like smoking not only relaxes the throat muscles but also increases inflammation in your airway. Physical attributes may also impact OSA. Excess fat or folds in the neck create a more narrow airway, leaving less room for proper airflow.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment in Columbia, MD

Snoring & Sleep Apnea treatment in Howard County

Many treatments are available for snoring and sleep apnea and will vary based on the individual diagnosis. Certain lifestyle changes can help to alleviate the symptoms of OSA, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Smoking cessation
  • Eliminating alcohol and sedative use

While the CPAP is considered the gold standard for treating OSA, oral appliance therapy has shown to be the preferred treatment among most patients. An oral appliance is small, discreet, and comfortable, resulting in better compliance and better results. We can fabricate a custom-made sleep apnea appliance for you to wear during sleep.

These special, customized dental devices fit comfortably in the mouth. Oral appliances are worn while you sleep to keep the airway open and prevent snoring and other symptoms. Most patients will use their oral appliances nightly, the key to reducing the health risks associated with sleep apnea.

Our oral appliances include customized splints, mouth guards, and night guards. Oral appliances work by:

  • Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, or uvula
  • Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
  • Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue

Dangers of Sleep Apnea infographic

Sleep Apnea FAQs

Untreated sleep apnea can have negative consequences on the entire body. Learn more by reading the answers to these commonly asked questions.

What is the life expectancy of someone with sleep apnea?

People can live with sleep apnea for up to 20 years. However, the average expectancy is 8 to 18.

In addition, research has revealed that sleeping on your left side may help patients with sleep apnea more than the right. However, sleeping on your right side can help stop snoring, which may benefit many patients.

Does it mean you have sleep apnea if you snore?

Doctors have associated sleep apnea with snoring. Snoring and sleep apnea can be linked to each other, but many people snore and do not have sleep apnea.

If you snore and are worried you may have sleep apnea, check and see if you are experiencing any other symptoms. Then, schedule an appointment to be checked by your dentist.

What foods should I avoid if I have sleep apnea?

Patients should avoid pig-based meat, lamb, and meat with high saturated fat levels. Eating this causes inflammation, which is dangerous for those with sleep apnea.

Doctors recommend that patients with sleep apnea refrain from eating any of these meats. In short, doctors recommend that patients with sleep apnea avoid alcohol, chocolate, and spicy foods. Any foods that increase inflammation or blood pressure can cause problems for sleep apnea patients.

Does sleep apnea get progressively worse?

Yes, the longer sleep apnea goes untreated, the worse the side effects. It can get to the point where you’re falling asleep while driving and putting you and everyone else on the road at risk.

You’re more likely to have issues with blood pressure and your vascular system. Treating sleep apnea early can prevent reoccurring breathing and heart problems.

Schedule A Dental Exam and Consultation

We offer patients treatment for snoring and sleep apnea in the Columbia, MD, area. With his advanced training and certification, our dentist can provide lasting relief from these symptoms. Call today or schedule an appointment online.

Please let us know if you have more questions about sleep apnea. We’re here to help.