Treating Snoring and Sleep Apnea Through Dentistry
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 utilizes update-to-date, advanced dental care technologies to treat loud snoring and sleep apnea.
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, if you notice any symptoms associated with sleep apnea or your partner notices you may be snoring, gasping for breath, or making a choking sound, it is important you seek treatment.
Our newly renovated dental office in Columbia, MD near you welcomes patients who have been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea or a sleep disorder. We offer an alternative treatment to those intolerant of the CPAP.
Why is Snoring a Problem?
Snoring by itself is not a major medical concern. However, snoring may be an indication of 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 of sleep-related breathing disorders. 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
- Poor memory/confusion
- Accident proneness
- Night sweats
- Morning headaches or migraines
- High blood pressure
- Waking up suddenly gasping or choking
- Dry mouth (especially in the morning)
It’s also important to note that anyone can develop sleep apnea. Patients should also be aware of their risks factors and determine if you can lower your risks of developing sleep apnea.
Common Risks Factors for Sleep Apnea include:
- High blood pressure
- Obesity or excessive weight
- Small airway
- Family history of sleep apnea
Snoring & Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are many treatments available for snoring and sleep apnea and they will vary based on the individual diagnosis. Certain lifestyle changes can help to alleviate the symptoms of OSA including weight loss, smoking cessation, and 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 to wear, resulting in better compliance and better results. Dr. Becker 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. The oral appliances we offer 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
Sleep Apnea FAQs
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 8-18. In addition, research has revealed that sleeping on your left side may help patients with sleep apnea more than sleeping on their right. However, sleeping on your right side can help stop snoring which may be a benefit to many patients.
Does it mean you have sleep apnea if you snore?
Doctors have associated sleep apnea with snoring. They 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, and 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 any meat that has high levels of saturated fat. 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.
Schedule A Dental Exam & Consultation
Dr. Becker offers his patients treatment for snoring and sleep apnea in the Columbia, MD area. With his advanced training and certification, he can provide lasting relief from snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. Call today or schedule an appointment online.