At Quince Orchard Dental Specialists, our practice is a complete health practice, which means that while our specialty is oral health, we consider your overall health in everything we do. The mouth is the gateway to the body, and oral health problems are usually indicators that your overall health may be in jeopardy. If you are not getting a good night’s sleep, meaning night after night you toss and turn and you wake up feeling exhausted, you may have sleep apnea, which affects over 25 million adults in the U.S. Loss of sleep impacts your health and your daily routine more than many people realize and can lead to serious conditions that, left unchecked, can become chronic. At Quince Orchard Dental Specialists, we screen all our patients for potential signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea means you actually stop breathing for a few seconds for up to a minute, several times a night. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when your muscles relax and the soft tissue in your airway collapses and interferes with your breathing. These pauses in breathing reduce your intake of oxygen; your breathing becomes irregular and disturbs your sleep. Anyone who sleeps with a sleep apnea patient knows those all too familiar sounds of snoring, possible gasping for breath, or even choking sounds. Men are more apt to suffer from sleep apnea, but women entering or in the throes of menopause can also have it. Sleep apnea is also common in extremely overweight individuals, or persons with a jaw that is misaligned or an airway that is unusually narrow. The two main forms of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is blocked airflow during sleep, usually when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses while you sleep. Health factors, such as obesity may explain this disorder.
Central sleep apnea results from a problem with how the brain signals the breathing muscles. The airway is not blocked, instead the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. This type of sleep apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke and predisposes the patient to developing risks of these disorders over the long term.
Sleep apnea also ranges from mild to severe:
Sleep apnea that is left untreated or ignored can cause severe damage to your health and overall quality of life. No one likes to feel tired all the time, as fatigue affects your ability to work, drive, think and just function normally! Left untreated, you are putting yourself at risk for accidents that can have a lifelong negative impact, such as falling asleep driving. Sleep apnea should be taken seriously and not thought of as just a nuisance. Healthwise, sleep apnea can lead to these other serious and in some cases life-threatening issues.
If a patient has any indicators of sleep apnea, we partner with an agency called Sleeptest.com to send a screening package to the patient’s home. This is an easier and more cost effective alternative to getting a sleep test done than at a sleep center. The patient will sleep with the device for two nights and then send it back to Sleeptest.com, where their board certified sleep expert will perform rigorous tests. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, don’t worry, our dentists will work together with your physician to ensure you get the necessary treatment.
There are several ways to treat mild to severe sleep apnea, from wearing an appliance to having surgery. The most common ones are listed here:
Great news...many medical insurance policies will at the very least partially cover the cost of oral appliance therapy! Dr. Rouhanian is a participating provider for PPO insurances, such as BlueCross BlueShield, and our practice also accepts Medicare and Tricare. Our team members have a lot of experience with insurance companies, and one of our goals is to help you maximize your available benefits. Beating sleep apnea should be an amazing experience, not a headache-inducing one when it’s time to pay. We invite you to come in today and get a sleep apnea screening for a better night’s sleep tomorrow.
Mild sleep apnea is the least advanced form of obstructive sleep apnea and is defined as sleep that is interrupted between five and fifteen times per hour.
Between mild and severe sleep apnea falls moderate sleep apnea, which is a mixture of symptoms of both, and is only differentiated by the symptoms’ intensity.
Severe sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is interrupted during sleep for 30 or more seconds causing the airflow to your lungs to be reduced every hour.
Oral appliances are often used as a substitute for use of a CPAP device or surgery when sleep apnea is classified as mild or moderate.