Obstructive Sleep Apnea leads to multiple co-morbidities or other diseases that can drastically shorten ones lifespan. Picture this, you are having a breath holding contest underwater with your niece/nephew and to your surprise they take you to your absolute limits until you finally give in and rise to surface gasping for air. How do you feel? Your heart is racing and you feel absolutely exhausted.
Picture doing this over and over in your sleep and you are well on your way to realizing what Obstructive Sleep Apnea does to one’s body. Each of these disturbances is called an Apnea.
During an Apnea, one is forced into a flight or fight response to literally save themselves from suffocating. In turn heart rate is elevated multiple times during the night putting extra stress on the heart which can increase blood pressure and increase risk for cardiac failure.
This same fight or flight response during an Apnea also stimulates ones blood sugar. Instead of actually fighting or “flighting” so to say, you are left stagnant in your bed trying to sleep. Thus, this wasted stimulation of blood sugar over and over during the night increases the risk of someone developing Diabetes as well as becoming overweight. The increase of blood sugar during an Apnea would be similar to having a sugary snack multiple times during the night time.
This does't even begin to touch the surface of how OSA effects quality of sleep. Not only do we need sleep to recover physically but lack of sleep can also affect mental acuity and our productivity during the day. A high percentage of car crashes are caused by drivers who are sleep deprived. Living with untreated OSA not only puts you at risk but also your passengers and other drivers on the roads.
Trying to lose weight but just can’t seem to make any progress?
When we go for a run we need sugar in our blood to use as energy. Running then uses this sugar in the blood to keep us going mile after mile. But what happens when blood sugar is elevated during sleep? This sugar is converted and stored for later use as fat. All the diets and workouts in the world may not be able to overcome the effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on blood sugar.
Chronic High Blood Pressure, Obesity and Diabetes can greatly decrease one’s life expectancy. If your loved one is a snorer then treating their Obstructive Sleep Apnea may be the key to increasing their health for years to come.
So what do I do?
First, a diagnosis is needed. Not all snorers have Obstructive sleep apnea and not all sleep apnea suffers snore. The diagnosis starts with a certified sleep study that measures snoring, number of apneas and oxygen levels during the night.
Are there any cures?
Once diagnosed by a sleep professional there are a number of devices that can prevent Obstructive sleep Apnea. Depending on the severity a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure may be prescribed to keep a patients airway open.
Are there other devices that are less invasive than a CPAP?
Yes. For mild OSA sufferers or patients who are unable to tolerate a CPAP, Dentists can fabricate a MAA or Mandibular Advancement Appliance .
A MAA is similar to wearing an upper and lower mouth guard at the same time. This device helps keep ones airway open throughout the night by preventing the lower jaw from drifting back into the throat which leads to airway obstruction or closure.
What can Drewyer Dentistry do for me?
At our office in Burtonsville, MD we assist in both the diagnosis and care for sufferers of OSA. We offer our patients a Free Take Home Sleep Study. Our sleep study device in comfortable and noninvasive and consists of wearing wrist watch size bracelet, a small microphone taped to the chest and a plastic finger cover that is smaller than a finger splint.
Drewyer Dentistry also fabricates MAA’s in office. Below is an example of one of the appliances we make for suffers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Check out our Oral Appliance for Sleep Breathing page to see how your dentist can help OSA sufferers.