Millions of Americans snore and for a variety of reasons. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes can prevent or lessen snoring. These remedies include sleeping on your side instead of on your back, avoiding alcohol and sedatives at bedtime, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
For others, snoring is an indication of a more serious sleep disorder known as Sleep Apnea. Those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) actually stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep because of a blockage in the airway. Generally, the blockage is caused by a collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the mouth or throat.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
There are many risk factors that have been proven to increase the risk of developing sleep apnea. People who drink, smoke and/or use sedatives are known to suffer from sleep apnea. It is also often worse in patients who are pregnant, overweight or obese, or use drugs.
This sleep disorder is known to be more prominent as people age. It is estimated that as many as 50% of the elderly population suffer from it. If you have a family history of OSA, have a narrow airway or small lower jaw, you also have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Diagnosing a sleep disorder will involve more than just your dentist. Your physician and/or other specialist in addition to Dr. Gauthier will work together to help you get diagnosed and treated for your snoring and sleep apnea. Your physician is the only medical professional that is qualified to diagnose you with sleep apnea. You will most likely need to undergo sleep testing to get an accurate diagnosis. X-rays and exams will also look for signs of a blockage in your airway. Most importantly, your medical team will review your medical history and discuss your symptoms. Common signs of a sleep disorder include:
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Waking during the night gasping for air
- Daily lethargy after a full nights rest
- Morning headaches
- Mood changes
Left untreated sleep apnea can lead to an increased risk of major systemic health concerns. Patient with sleep apnea are more prone to diabetes, stroke, and heart attacks, among other ailments. If you believe that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, contact your doctor as soon as possible. While Dr. Gauthier is unable to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), he will work your physician or sleep specialist to help you through of the process of getting a diagnosis.
Sleep Apnea Appliance
Dr. Gauthier treats sleep apnea patients using SomnoDent®, an oral appliance therapy. TheSomnoDent oral appliance is custom made to be comfortable and discreet, the purpose of which is to keep the airway open by repositioning the jaw and tongue, preventing a collapse from occurring.
SomnoDent treatment has also been shown to have a clinically significant impact in reducing patients’ blood pressure and has been predicted to reduce the risk of stroke. In addition, this blood pressure reduction was apparent in the early morning, which is the time of peak risk for a heart attack.