Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night’s sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SLEEP APNEA?
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
GIVEN UP ON CPAP? THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO SLEEP APNEA TREATMENT IN BOULDER, CO THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT.
First, let’s discuss why you should be concerned about sleep apnea. Here are some of the symptoms and negative side effects of sleep apnea:
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Heart Attack
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Racing and Arrhythmias
- Difficulty Concentrating
- TMJ Pain or Clicking in the Joints
- Grinding Your Teeth (Bruxism)
- Excessive Fatigue
- Dry Mouth or Throat
- Frequent Nighttime Urination
- Restless Sleeper
- Awakening with Shortness of Breath
- Gasping for Breath
- Pauses in Breathing While Sleeping
- Weight Gain
- In Children, it can Display as Signs of ADHD
Sleep Apnea is a life-threatening disorder that is categorized by whey you stop breathing at night. Individuals that have sleep apnea will partially wake throughout the night as they struggle to breathe. This is most likely accompanied by snoring, gasping, or choking throughout the night. Since people with sleep apnea do not fully wake during the night, they are often unaware that they have a sleep breathing disorder and this usually goes undiagnosed unless a bed partner or a family member points this out.
Another person to consider in this equation is the bed partner. They too suffer most times with a second-hand sleeping disorder. When they are sleeping next to a loud, noisy, and snoring bed partner, they often get woken up throughout the night. They may not be conscious of it, but they too are not getting a full-night of rested sleep.
We typically think of the sleep apnea patient as being a man that is overweight and is over the age of forty. This could not be further from the truth. Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age. We here at Boulder Dental Designs in Boulder, CO treat just as many women and children in our practice as we do men. Unfortunately, there is a lack of awareness by the public and many of our healthcare professionals. Sadly, most people go undiagnosed and untreated with this deadly disease.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TREAT SLEEP APNEA?
Individuals with this condition STOP BREATHING multiple times per hour throughout the night. This puts significant stress on the body’s systems, especially the heart. Because the individual stops breathing, it increases the carbon dioxide levels in the blood and decreases the oxygen levels. The heart has to pump faster and harder for the individual to survive. Pumping faster and harder puts significant stress on the heart, increases your blood pressure, increases the chance for a heart attack, and increases the chance of stroke. This will decrease the life span of the individual.
The first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms of a sleep breathing disorder. The most obvious sign is snoring. While snoring is a common problem for many people, it can also be a sign of other major health complications. It is estimated that more than 80 million people in North America snore while sleeping, which not only affects the quality of sleep of the person snoring, but also the quality of sleep of their loved ones and other family members. Luckily, there is a way to treat chronic snoring.
WHAT CAUSES SNORING?
Snoring can be the result of several factors. Typically, snoring is caused by the relaxing of the muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth, making the air passage smaller. The decrease in space through the airway makes it harder for each breath to get through. And, when it does get through, it moves over the soft tissues in the mouth/throat and causes a vibration that results in the snoring sound. Other causes of snoring may include:
- Excess body weight
- Alcohol consumption
- Certain sleep aides or sedatives
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
HOW DOES ONE FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE A SLEEP BREATHING DISORDER?
First, you need to be seen by your Physician, ENT, or Dentist. Dr. Montoya will look for signs and symptoms of a sleep breathing disorder and then order a sleep test to rule in or out sleep apnea. Two types of tests can be done. Polysomnography (PSG) is a sleep test done in a lab or hospital setting and has to be ordered by your physician. The other is a Home Sleep Test (HST) which is a sleep test done in the privacy of your own home and can be administered by Dr. Montoya and read by a board-certified sleep physician. My patients usually get an HST that is recommended through our office.
WHAT IS A MANDIBULAR ADVANCEMENT DEVICE?
If you snore at night, then a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) may represent a solution and a better night’s sleep! The MAD is a specially designed dental device that gently helps keep the lower jaw, or mandible, in a forward position, increasing the airway passage and helping you breathe better so you can get a full, quiet night’s sleep.
Some devices also stop the tongue from falling back over your windpipe. Dr. Montoya will fit these special appliances to meet your condition.
IS MAD COMFORTABLE?
The answer is simple — YES! A Mandibular Advancement Device is made to be comfortable so that you can sleep without even noticing you’re wearing it. It does not prevent you from breathing with your mouth open and will even eliminate snoring for patients with sinus congestion or allergies. You may experience some slight stiffness of the jaw for the first few mornings after wearing the device, but this feeling is only temporary and will go away after you wake up and remove the device.
CPAP MACHINE IS ANOTHER SOLUTION
I guess that since you are on this page that you have already tried CPAP, do not want to try CPAP, or have known someone who used a CPAP and hated it. We still have to inform you that this is a solution for sleep breathing disorders and is currently the most commonly prescribed. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This blows air into your nose, and sometimes your mouth, to open the airway while you sleep. Imagine it is like blowing up a balloon and keeping it inflated all night long by pushing constant air into it as it leaks. The unfortunate part is that patients or their bed partners usually cannot tolerate the machine, leading to very poor compliance with it. If they are not compliant with the CPAP then they are leaving the disease untreated.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER ALTERNATIVES TO CPAP?
There are some lifestyle changes that people can make by losing weight, quitting smoking, treating allergies, avoiding alcohol at night, avoiding sleeping pills, changing bedtime habits, and altering their sleeping position.
Some surgical interventions may help. There can be some nasal surgeries done if there are issues with breathing through your nose. There can be small implants placed in the soft palate to support the tissue. There can also be jaw surgery to reposition things to better accommodate the airway. Or, tissue can be removed in certain parts of the airway to improve airflow. These modes of correction are done by an ENT, oral surgeon, or a combination of both. We here at Boulder Dental Designs work closely with some great specialists in the area if this is what is deemed necessary for your therapy.
WHY CHOOSE US?
Dr. Montoya has been successfully treating patients with sleep breathing disorders in Boulder, CO since 2001. He brings extensive knowledge to the field. He works with both children and adults to correct sleep breathing disorders. He has invested in specific equipment to measure the airway in 3 dimensions through radiographic technology and acoustic mapping. To his knowledge, no other office in the area provides this level of technical evaluation of the airway. He offers different appliances that are hand-selected for the situation that is required since no two patients are alike. He evaluates and treats TMD symptoms that usually go hand-and-hand with sleep breathing disorders. We also work with most major medical plans to get coverage for this medical condition, and we have different financing methods – because finances should not stand in the way of your health.