Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans. It is a serious sleep disorder that causes multiple pauses in breathing as you sleep. These moments of breathing cessation prevent restful sleep and increase the risk of serious health problems.
At Stephens & Gatewood Dentistry in Spring, Texas, our experienced dentists provide take-home sleep tests and treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea. To arrange a free consultation, please call us at 281-320-2000.
- What Is Sleep Apnea?
- Snoring and the Connection to Sleep Apnea
- The Effect on Your Health and Wellness
- Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
- The Take-Home Sleep Study
- SomnoDent® Sleep Appliance
- Arrange Your Evaluation in Spring, TX
There are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common. It is caused by blockage in the airway, which occurs when throat tissues or the tongue relax too far into the airway. Central sleep apnea is less common and is caused by your brain failing to signal your breathing muscles while you sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the form treated by our dentists.
When an OSA episode occurs, your airway is blocked off from the flow of oxygen. You will instinctually wake up so that your throat muscles tighten and unblock your airway. A partner may hear you gasp or make a choking noise as you awaken. These episodes in which you aren't breathing can occur hundreds of times a night. It makes it impossible to get the rest you need.
Sleep apnea can be really difficult to recognize in yourself. Typically, you won't be aware of the multiple awakenings during the night. But if you feel excessively tired all of the time and a family member has noticed loud snoring, choking or gasping while you sleep, then those are possible indications of this sleep disorder. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Chronic headaches
- Extreme drowsiness during the day
- Concentration problems
- Impaired memory
- Irritability, depression, anxiety or other mood changes
- Falling asleep at work, while driving or at other times during your day
- Dry mouth upon waking
If you think you may have sleep apnea, please call our experienced Spring dentists to schedule an evaluation. We offer a convenient take-home sleep test that helps us determine if mild to moderate sleep apnea is present.
When sleep apnea causes snoring, the snoring is caused by the vibration of the collapsed throat tissues as air passes by them. The greater the airway blockage, the louder the snoring, although snoring will cease if the airway becomes completely blocked. Your body essentially panics when this cessation of breathing occurs, causing you to awaken slightly from sleep.
Not all people who snore have sleep apnea, but most sleep apnea sufferers snore. At Stephens & Gatewood Dentistry, our custom oral appliances prevent episodes of snoring and breathing cessation, so that you can get the rest you so desperately need.
Sleep apnea reduces the flow of oxygen to your brain, and prevents your body and brain from getting the rest needed to function well. Over time, OSA can have a serious effect on your wellness. The repeated drops in blood oxygen level causes an increase in stress hormones, which raises your heart rate and can lead to cardiovascular problems. OSA increases the risk of serious health problems:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Chronic headaches
- Decreased sex drive
- Daytime fatigue that can make driving dangerous
Sleep apnea can also affect the way your body uses and stores energy. Because of these changes, sleep apnea has been linked to diabetes and obesity.
The degree to which OSA can affect all areas of your life is significant. Sleep apnea can cause drowsiness and poor performance while you are working. It may begin to affect your standing at your workplace. You may also be dangerously drowsy while you drive, which could be so extreme as to cause you to fall asleep behind the wheel. Not only that, but you may be experiencing severe mood effects, including depression and anxiety. Get treatment now to reverse the way sleep apnea has affected your life. Getting good sleep is important to your happiness and health.
Certain factors increase your risk for developing sleep apnea:
- Being male
- Large neck size
- Larger tonsils or tongue than normal
- Being overweight (according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, half of sleep apnea sufferers are overweight)
- Alcohol use
- Over age 40
- Family history of sleep apnea
It's entirely possible to have none of these risk factors and still suffer from sleep apnea. As part of your consultation with our dentists, they will review your health and family history, as well as the presence of any risk factors, to determine if you can benefit from sleep apnea treatment.
If you aren't sure whether you are experiencing this sleep disorder, our dentists can help you find out. We offer a convenient, comfortable take-home sleep device that measures activity while you sleep.
This device is worn around your wrist as you sleep. It is designed to be comfortable. There will also be a sensor on your finger and your chest. One of the great things about it is it enables you to avoid a sleep test in a lab. Our dentists want to see what happens during a normal night of sleeping, and your own home and bed is the best place for that to happen.
You will bring the device back with you so that we can interpret the data it collected. If it indicates you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, our dentists can help you find effective relief.
SomnoDent® is an oral appliance. You may also hear them referred to as sleep guards, like a mouth guard but designed for sleep apnea episodes. This device is customized to your teeth and jaws. It looks similar to a set of retainers or bite guards.
How Does It Work?
The device fits over your teeth. You will place them there each night before you go to bed. It holds the jaws forward, preventing the tongue and throat tissues from collapsing into your airway. In this manner, snoring is prevented, and a clear and open airway is maintained as you sleep.
We want to make sure you get the most from your oral appliance. Let us know if you experience any discomfort or rubbing, as slight adjustments can often be made to the shape or fit of the device.
Some people can further benefit from managing certain aspects of their lives to relieve sleep apnea episodes. Losing weight, quitting smoking and enjoying alcoholic beverages only in moderation are a few ways you may be able to prevent apnea episodes, in conjunction with the use of an oral appliance.
Is this device similar to a "CPAP"?
No, an oral appliance works different than CPAP. "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure" masks emit a stream of air down your throat as you sleep, which maintains an open, clear airway. There are some drawbacks however, which the SomnoDent® eliminates.
These drawbacks include the CPAP's loud noise, uncomfortable fit over your mouth and nose, and nasal congestion. The machine and mask are also not convenient for travel. A custom-fitted SomnoDent® on the other hand, is easily transported and does not cause any of the issues described above.
With two office locations in Spring, our dentists look forward to meeting you to discuss how you can get restful, rejuvenating sleep. We care for sleep apnea sufferers from across the region, including The Woodlands, Conroe, Tomball and Magnolia. To arrange a sleep apnea evaluation, please complete the form on this page or call us at 281-320-2000.