Do you often find yourself waking up tired despite getting enough sleep? Have you been told that you snore loudly and often? If that is the case, you may have sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders. Dr. Avi Weisfogel dives into the subject of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that goes undiagnosed much too often, and explains how your dentist can help if you think you may suffer from this disease.
Sleep Apnea – A Common Sleep Disorder
Sleep apnea is characterized by a blocked upper respiratory system during sleep, resulting in heavy snoring and even choking. Pauses in breathing can be as short as a few seconds or as long as minutes and can occur as much as 30 times per hour.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Although this sleep disorder is gaining more recognition, many people are still unaware of the life-damaging and life-shortening effects of this disease – in fact, it is estimated that 80% of people suffering from moderate or severe sleep apnea have not been diagnosed.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
This sleep disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Insomnia or sleep deprivation
- Heavy snoring or mouth breathing
- Periods of no breathing during sleep
- Dry mouth and throat
These symptoms are caused by the restricted oxygen brought on by a blocked respiratory system.
Dr. Avi Weisfogel stresses the dangers of sleep apnea – since this disease often goes undiagnosed, too many people live with its consequences during long periods of time and suffer life-shortening consequences such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Accidents caused by falling asleep (automobile or at work)
Consult Your Dentist
If you think you may have sleep apnea, Dr. Avi Weisfogel highly recommends consulting with your dentist for diagnosis and treatment because your oral health could be linked to the condition. For instance, if your tongue is too large or your jaw is too small, this can cause airway obstructions and be at the root of a blocked respiratory system causing pauses in breathing.
In addition, the first signs of sleep apnea can have a direct on your oral health. As an example, people suffering from sleep apnea often grind their teeth, meaning a dentist can look for signs of wear on your teeth’s surface as well as inflamed and receding gums.
If your dentist diagnoses you with sleep apnea, he or she may suggest different types of treatment depending on the severity of your symptoms.
One of the most successful treatments of moderate and severe sleep apnea is the use of airway pressure machines during sleep – this consists of wearing a mask delivering oxygen through the nasal cavity during the night.
However, your dentist may suggest lifestyle changes such as weight loss and reduced alcohol consumption, and in extreme cases, surgery.
Dr. Avi Weisfogel urges you to trust your dentist when it comes to the treatment of sleep apnea. Although some procedures may be difficult to get used to, many people see a huge improvement in their quality of life when sleep apnea is controlled.