Sleep Apnea

A Good Night's Sleep...

I hate to admit to it, but I snore. Like a freight train speeding ‘round the bend through a one horse town. After a few glasses of wine, I can get so loud that I even wake myself up. Many nights, it’s hard to get a decent rest with all of the elbows to my side and demands to roll over.

Wives can be so inconsiderate.

All kidding aside, for me, the problem stops there; with the snoring. I have yet to develop obstructive sleep apnea. Father time has caused the muscles of my neck and airway to lose their tone. When I fall asleep on my back, my airway narrows and the air passing through makes noise. Constant allergies don’t help. The problem has yet to affect my health or my sleeping habits, but it sure doesn’t help my wife get a good night’s sleep.

Routinely, Jennifer and I both get a good rest when I wear my sleep appliance. It’s  comfortable, custom fit, and holds my airway open so that I no longer snore. The only thing it doesn’t do is glow in the dark. When that model comes out, I’m getting an upgrade.

With my appliance in, I sleep like a rock. So does my wife.
Everyone wakes up happy.

More and more research is coming out about the ways in which obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can kill. To make a long story short, OSA is a condition in which patients are unable to achieve deep and restful sleep. Throughout the night they awaken and gasp for air. Sometimes this happens consciously and sometimes patients do not even know they do it. There can be a variety of causes and the effects can range from daytime sleepiness to death by stroke or heart attack. OSA can and does kill every day.

What does OSA have to do with snoring? Snoring is an early stage or sign of potential sleep apnea. Most patients who get diagnosed with OSA are prescribed a machine (called a CPAP) that helps them breathe and achieve restful sleep. This machine works great, but for a variety of reasons, a large portion of OSA patients quit wearing their breathing machines. Without the CPAP every night, the restless sleep returns, along with the associated risks of death.

An appliance similar to the one that keeps me from snoring can be used to treat people who cannot tolerate their CPAP breathing machines.

Under the right circumstances, CPAP intolerant people may be treated with an oral appliance that holds open the patient’s airway and allows proper sleep. This is where dentistry and OSA intersect.

For those who are not wearing your CPAP, a properly trained dentist can better your life.

I’m a believer. I wear an oral appliance every night myself.

Until next week, keep smiling.