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What You Should Know About Sleep Apnea and Dentistry
For those who are not familiar with sleep apnea, it is a disorder that causes an individual’s upper airway to become obstructed while they are sleeping. Even though they may not realize that it is happening, those who struggle with sleep apnea often stop breathing for about 10 to 30 seconds while they are asleep. And these short pauses in breathing can occur as much as 400 times throughout the night. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 25 million people in America struggle with some form of sleep apnea. Along with frequent pauses in breathing, sleep apnea can cause loud snoring and may even give way to other health problems. Fortunately, sleep apnea is a disorder that can be treated by most licensed dentists.
The Different Types of Sleep Apnea and How They Each Disrupt Breathing
When it comes to sleep apnea, there is more than one kind. According to Smile Angels of Beverly Hills, the three different forms of sleep apnea that affects the lives of millions of Americans include the following:
Central sleep apnea (CSA) – This disorder occurs when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles responsible for regulating breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – This particular sleep apnea disorder is the most common and typically occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat become so relaxed that they impede normal breathing function.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome (CompSAS) – This disorder affects about 18 percent of people in the U.S. and is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Who Is Most at Risk of Suffering From Sleep Apnea?
Multiple factors can contribute to any one of the three forms of sleep apnea detailed in this article, including gender. Studies show that men are 2 to 3 times more likely to struggle with the condition than women. However, it is worth noting that many women will often suffer from sleep apnea after going through menopause. Other factors that can trigger sleep apnea in both men and women, according to Bruce Vafa DDS., a leep apnea dentist with Smile Angeles of Beverly Hills, include the following:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Nasal congestion
It is worth pointing out that unresolved sleep apnea can give way to several chronic health problems, according to many board-certified doctors in Los Angeles. Some of these health problems include the following:
- cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment
- Metabolic syndrome
- Liver disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Severe daytime drowsiness
Common Signs of CSA, OSA, and CompSAS
When it comes to sleep disorders, including CSA, OSA, and CompSAS, you probably won’t know that you have one unless a spouse or significant other who shares your bed informs you of the symptoms they witnessed while you were sleeping. However, if you sleep alone, there are still ways to tell if you have CSA, OSA, or CompSAS. According to many sleep apnea doctors, individuals with these particular sleep disorders will often exhibit the following:
- Gasping for air while sleeping or upon waking
- Waking up with an unusually dry mouth
- Severe headaches upon waking
- A lack of focus
Can You Have Sleep Apnea Without Snoring?
According to an article published by Johns Hopkins Medicine, it is not uncommon for some individuals to struggle with CSA, OSA, or CompSAS without snoring while they sleep. However, most medical and dental professionals agree that, more often than not, these disorders and snoring tend to go hand-in-hand. Therefore, whether snoring is part of that equation or not, individuals should seek treatment as soon as possible if they are experiencing any of the symptoms detailed in this article.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
While CSA, OSA, and CompSAS seldom have anything to do with the teeth and gums, they are, nonetheless, disorders that involve the oral cavity. For that reason, many people will discuss sleep apnea treatment options with their dentist. In many cases, dentists in Los Angeles, such as Bruce Vafa DDS., for example, will work closely with a patient’s medical doctor to identify the cause of their sleep disorder and prescribe an ideal course of treatment.
One example of a highly effective dental treatment for sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy. For those not familiar with this type of dental treatment for sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy involves dentists prescribing a custom-fit dental appliance that patients will need to wear before going to bed. These orthodontic-like retainers help support the jaw and prevent the airway from collapsing. In the process, they also minimize snoring if that happens to be one of the symptoms an individual is experiencing. For these reasons, oral appliance therapy has been endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as an effective dental treatment for sleep apnea. However, it is not the only one; there are many more treatment options available to individuals struggling with CSA, OSA, or CompSAS.
Alternative Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Also coming under the umbrella of oral appliance therapy is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which is especially beneficial for those struggling with OSA. But there is a caveat worth noting; CPAP therapy requires that individuals wear a mask while they are sleeping. And not surprisingly, many individuals find doing so exceedingly uncomfortable.
That said, those who do turn to CPAP therapy to combat OSA or another form of sleep apnea will use a CPAP machine, which is connected to a hose and a face mask, to get a better night’s sleep. These machines provide constant air pressure, which travels through the hose and out through the face mask, to prevent an individual’s airway from collapsing. While effective, some have reported that using a CPAP machine makes it difficult to fall asleep and also leaves their nose and mouth very dry.
Sleep Apnea Medication
If patients do not respond to oral appliance therapy, most dentists will advise them to speak with a medical doctor about other possible treatments. And sleep apnea medication will sometimes be part of that conversation. Some of the medications commonly prescribed to combat CSA, OSA, and CompSAS include the following:
It is important to note that if a patient has an underlying health problem that is contributing to their struggles with CSA, OSA, or CompSAS, treating the underlying health problem will often resolve the associated sleep disorder in the process.
Average Cost of Sleep Apnea Treatments in Los Angeles
When it comes to treating CSA, OSA, or CompSAS, the cost of treatment can vary based on several factors, including whether or not the disorder is a byproduct of an underlying health problem. Current data shows that the average cost of sleep apnea treatments with licensed dentists in Los Angeles, particularly those that involve CPAP machines, is between $1,800 to $2,000. And this covers the cost of office visits, fitting, and adjustments if needed. If a patient has CSA, OSA, or CompSAS that can be ameliorated with a mouthguard or a similar dental oral appliance, treatment costs are much lower. In either case, both options might be covered in some capacity by a patient’s private dental or health insurance.
Final Thoughts on Sleep Apnea
In summary, CSA, OSA, and CompSAS are all disorders that can make getting enough restorative sleep difficult. And if left untreated, they can each give way to serious health problems as well. That being said, if you’re struggling with symptoms associated with sleep apnea and live in the Los Angeles area, consider scheduling a consultation with Smile Angels of Beverly Hills today. During your consultation, leep apnea dentist Bruce Vafa DDS. will take the time needed to learn more about your symptoms before recommending the best course of treatment for you.