Why it’s important to Treat Sleep Apnea – Luxe Dental Austin

Medical experts agree that the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy heart are to eat well and exercise often. But there’s a third item on the list that’s often overlooked — get plenty of sleep. It turns out that about 18 to 22 million adults in the U.S. actually don’t sleep well because they have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and many don’t even know it. According to the prestigious Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic. “At least 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men are affected [by sleep apnea],” said Center director, Dr. Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep Apnea Symptoms and AffectsThere are three main types of sleep apnea. The most common is a condition that causes you to stop breathing several times throughout the night. When that happens, most patients wake up choking, gasping for air or having a coughing fit. Some people experience wakefulness for a few seconds at a time and may not even recall that they had several dozen instances of wakefulness. But the experience will still have a serious impact on your health and ability to function.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Imagine feeling fatigued day after day, even after waking up from a seemingly full night’s sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you might also have frequent headaches, feel irritated or depressed, lack energy, have trouble concentrating, and can gain weight even if you eat well. And it’s possible that none of these symptoms will make sense to you because most patients — about 80 percent — are not even aware they’re suffering from sleep apnea.

Why it’s important to treat sleep apnea

Sleep apnea has been linked to some very serious complications. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, “It’s associated with type 2 diabetes and depression; and is a factor in many traffic accidents and accidents with heavy machinery, owing to the persistent drowsiness suffered by many OSA patients before the disease is recognized and treated.” Also, when patients with undiagnosed sleep apnea are being treated for depression, their treatment likely won’t work. But there is good news. According to Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer, “the depression improves when sleep apnea is diagnosed and treated.”  Sleep apnea can also cause high blood pressure, memory issues, cardiovascular disease, decreased sex drive, and insomnia.

How to treat sleep apnea

Surgery can help open air passages at the back of the throat, making it easier to breathe at night. But surgery is risky and should be reserved for patients with severe OSA. There are a few very promising treatment options for sleep apnea that are non-invasive. 

Breathing devices – A CPAP (or continuous positive airway pressure) is a mask you wear that forces air through your mouth while you’re sleeping. 

Oral Appliances – A Mandibular Repositioning Device works by adjusting the position of the soft palate and jaw, which creates a larger opening in the upper airway. Your dentist at Luxe Dental Austin can fit you for a custom-made oral appliance. Studies show that patients who don’t like using a CPAP machine tend to do well with a dental appliance.   

What to do now?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you should discuss your sleep habits with a doctor so you can explore your treatment options.

  • Do you snore?
  • Do you still feel tired after a full night’s sleep?
  • Are you fatigued most of the day, even if you slept well the previous night?
  • Do you ever wake up coughing, choking or gasping for air?
  • Do you ever fall asleep when you’re sitting quietly, like watching TV, at work, in the passenger seat of a car, or when driving?

**Take our Sleep Disorder Survey by clicking the button below.