Snoring Can Be SeriousFriday, August 5th, 2011, 1:07 pm
Most people think that snoring is not a big deal. They feel it may be annoying for those within earshot or the opportunity for a funny video, and that is about it. The truth is that snoring can be a sign of a serious sleep breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Snoring occurs when the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax during sleep and partially block the airway — this causes the sound we all know as snoring. Snoring has been linked to changes in the arteries in the neck which can lead to stroke. Snoring also affects whoever is sharing the bed with the snorer. The noise causes disturbed sleep for both partners. Studies have shown that not getting adequate amounts of sleep or having sleep repeatedly disturbed leads to memory problems, weight gain and irritability.
When a patient has obstructive sleep apnea the same thing occurs — only when the airway becomes blocked it is completely shut off from the flow of air for 10 seconds or more at a time. The sleeper stops breathing and then wakens with a gasping or choking noise. This event occurs many times during the night — the number of times and the duration of the stoppages determines whether the condition is mild, moderate or severe. The reduction in oxygen levels caused by obstructive sleep apnea causes problems in many systems throughout the body. Obstructive sleep apnea patients should not ignore their disease. Complications from untreated OSA include high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. OSA is also linked to diabetes, headaches, asthma and increased risk of accidents due to daytime sleepiness. The risk for depression also increases with the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea.
Why is a dentist talking about sleep disorders? While the gold standard of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP many patients cannot tolerate sleeping with a mask or the noise from the machine keeps them awake. The field of Dental Sleep Medicine offers another option – oral appliance therapy allows you to sleep (and breathe) through the night without being tethered to a machine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that oral appliance therapy is effective for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
For more information about oral appliance therapy to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea please contact us at 706-886-9439 today.
Category: Dental Sleep Medicine