Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Health?

Our patients are often surprised to learn that the sleep apnea patient’s dentist initially discovers the majority of sleep apnea cases. So many of the early signs of the disorder show up in the mouth; it is difficult for a trained professional not to notice something is not right. Our dentist in Huntington Beach is well aquatinted with the sleep apnea indicators and is certain to check for any tell-tale signs of sleep apnea.

An important fact that many people do not realize is sleep apnea is a significant health problem. Over 10-million people experience some form of sleep apnea. Many of those who have the disorder experience a mild case, but there are tens of thousands of sleep apnea patients who struggle with other significant health problems linked to sleep apnea.

Our sleep apnea dentist is quick to point out that sleep apnea is much more than an inconvenient series of nights filled with loud snoring. Sleep Apnea has links to major health problems. Some of these health problems include:

• Heart Disease- The cycle of frequent waking after you stop breathing, puts tremendous stress on the cardiovascular system. The body has a difficult time trying to adjust to continual drops in blood oxygen levels. As a result, patients with sleep apnea are likely to experience irregular heartbeats or heart attacks.

• High Blood Pressure- When the body senses the brain, and other organs are not getting enough oxygen (because of the poorly oxygenated blood) hormones secrete to raise the blood pressure, with the hope of getting more oxygen.

• Obesity- Lack of deep sleep that accompanies sleep apnea leads the body to release a hormone called ghrelin. It is also known as the hunger hormone. When the hormone pairs with the constant fatigue seen in sleep apnea patients, the patient is prone to overeating and eventually obesity.

• Mood and Cognition Disturbances- Lack of sleep disrupts the natural patterns of sleep the human body needs to think clearly. Additionally, depressed mood is a frequent problem seen in sleep apnea patients.

If you believe that you may have sleep apnea, please tell our dentist right away. We have various options to help end your sleep apnea problems for good.

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Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Snoring man, frustrated woman

We frequently see patients with various kinds of jaw problems as well as worn or cracked teeth. While our patients may not be aware of it, our dentist in North Hollywood knows immediately that sleep apnea is the most likely culprit behind these symptoms.

Dentists are nearly always the first members of the medical community to notice sleep apnea symptoms and refer patients to doctors for a formal diagnosis. The referral is necessary because only a doctor specializing in sleep disorders can “officially” diagnose the problem.

For many years, sleep apnea was believed to be a mere inconvenience, loud snoring disrupting sleep. Our sleep apnea dentist in North Hollywood will tell you that the disorder is more than an annoyance. Over ten million people suffer from sleep apnea; many do not know they have the problem. Not every sufferer experiences life-threatening complications because of sleep apnea, but the disorder ties to serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Additionally, those with sleep apnea must endure multiple medical problems such as oxygen deprivation and significant sleep deprivation.

The oral problems frequently caused by sleep apnea are not widely publicized. Although through patient education, more people are learning about the link between sleep apnea and dental issues.

Here are some symptoms of sleep apnea we frequently see.

• Tooth grinding (also called bruxism)-We see many patients who show signs of tooth grinding such as worn teeth. Patients with bruxism often also have chipped or cracked teeth because of the tremendous pressure the jaw exerts. Researchers tell us that the link between bruxism and sleep apnea is that a patient begins grinding their teeth as a way to wake the body and breathe.

• Temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ)- Sleep apnea and TMJ relate to each other through tooth grinding and jaw clenching. It is very common for a patient with sleep apnea to wake with extreme headaches radiating from their jaws.

• Dry mouth- Patients who complain of dry mouth, especially upon waking, tend to be apnea patients who mouth- breathe during the night.

If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact our office. There are many types of treatments our dentist can suggest that can make a huge difference in your sleep and your life.

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

The snoring

Sleep apnea is associated with out-of-control snoring. But that’s just one symptom, and it’s harmless. Multiple other symptoms could be more disruptive of your quality of life. Comparing your symptoms to a list won’t help you feel better, but it could put you on a path to a diagnosis.

 

Sleep apnea is a pattern of interrupted sleep, caused by the collapse of throat muscles. This condition can be either obstructive, when the cause is physical, or central—when the cause is neurological. Either one is bad for the business of your sleep. While it’s up to your sleeping partner to rate your snoring, there are signs you can notice yourself. These include:

 

Waking multiple times per night to urinate
Waking up with a headache, sore throat or dry mouth, or a sore jaw
Recurrent reawakening or insomnia
Persistent feelings of fatigue
Inability to concentrate or increased irritability during the day

 

In an apneic episode, the body ceases to breathe. In severe cases, it happens consistently throughout the night. Obviously, this can impact your health. Along with the pre-existing health patterns that may have led to sleep apnea in the first place—like obesity or alcoholism—you should treat your sleep apnea with urgency. This means getting a diagnosis, which often means getting a sleep study. Sleep physicians like our San Francisco dentist often recommend a sleep study both before and after diagnosis—one to determine a course of treatment, and the other to determine the effectiveness of that treatment.
Available treatments include CPAP—or continuous positive airway pressure—and OAT—or oral appliance therapy. CPAP is a machine that regulates airflow through a mask. OAT is for patients who do not respond to the invasiveness of CPAP, and uses a mouth guard to reposition the jaw for better breathing.

 

To find out if you have sleep apnea, contact our expert in sleep apnea in San Francisco.

How to Know if You Have Sleep Apnea

The snoring

Sleep apnea is a very tricky condition to diagnose. This is because most of the symptoms can look like signs of other health issues. Furthermore, the most telling symptoms occur at night during sleep. Identifying sleep apnea is vital to get quality night’s sleep, and prevent serious health conditions. Here is what you should look for if you are concerned you have sleep apnea.

Symptoms during sleep:

• Snoring
• Holding the breath
• Gasping for air
• Waking up to go to the bathroom frequently
• Insomnia
• Bruxism, or habitually clenching and grinding of the teeth
• Nightmares
• Breathing through the mouth
• Loud breathing

Symptoms during the day:

• Morning headaches
• Dry mouth
• Moodiness and irritability
• Cravings for sugary and/or fatty foods
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Depression
• Constant fatigue
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, such as heart conditions, diabetes, and stroke. Furthermore, the lack of quality sleep can cause the patient to fall asleep at inopportune times or in dangerous situations.

Our sleep apnea doctors will work with you to determine the best treatment for you. This may include certain lifestyle changes, an oral appliance, or CPAP machine. In certain cases, surgery might be necessary. Schedule your appointment today.

How Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Health

The snoring

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans. It affects not just your sleep, but also many other aspects of your life and health. If our dentists determine that you have sleep apnea, treatment is essential for relieving your symptoms and restoring your health.

Consequences of sleep apnea can include:

  • Daytime fatigue as a result of repeated awakenings that prevent healthy restorative sleep
  • Moodiness, depression, irritability, and difficulty concentrating due to sleep deprivation
  • High blood pressure due to repeated and sudden drops in blood oxygen levels
  • An increased risk of atrial fibrillation, heart attack, and stroke as a result of cardiovascular strain
  • An increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes

Sleep apnea can also affect partners and loved ones who do not suffer from the condition due to the loud, chronic snoring preventing them from getting the sleep they need, too.

Proper treatment, which may include lifestyle changes, the use of a sleep apnea oral appliance, or the use of a positive airway pressure machine, can improve your health and your quality of sleep. Call our office today to learn more or to schedule an evaluation with our sleep apnea dentist in North Hollywood.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

The snoring

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common, and involves apneic events in which normal breathing is interrupted. Central sleep apnea involves apneic events during which no breathing is detected, sometimes for as long as 20 seconds.

Our expert in sleep apnea in Van Nuys lists the following as common causes of sleep apnea:

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Risk factors include being male, being middle-aged, being African-American, and having a large neck size. But these do not exactly cause sleep apnea. Directly, the breathing difficulty develops when the muscles controlling the airway relax too much. This relaxation, combined with excess fatty tissue—which is where the overweight part comes in—can produce apneic events.

Causes of Central Sleep Apnea

While rarer, central sleep apnea can be greater cause for alarm because of its neuropathological roots. Some data links it to disorders of the brainstem. In central sleep apnea, the asleep subject will stop breathing entirely simply because the brain isn’t telling them to. Sometimes, an underlying medical condition is to blame. The patient may exhibit affinity for Cheyne-Stokes breathing, which is a known associate of heart failure. More episodically, central sleep apnea may occur after a drastic change in altitude, or drug use.

A small group of patients have an apneic case that combines both obstructive and central sleep apneas. This is known as mixed or complex sleep apnea.

Contact our Van Nuys dentist for more information.

How Severe Sleep Apnea Can Affect You

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Many individuals suffer from sleep apnea without even knowing it. They may not sleep in the same room with another person, so there is no way to know that they snore excessively. Furthermore, sleep apnea causes patients to wake up sometimes hundreds of times a night, but only slightly, meaning patients do not usually realize it. So it is normal for sleep apnea sufferers to be completely unaware of the problem.

There are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs due to the muscles in the throat relaxing during sleep, blocking air from entering into the system. Central sleep apnea has the same effect, but is caused by the brain not prompting the breathing process during sleep.

The symptoms of severe sleep apnea, both obstructive and central, are multiple and dangerous. Most are due to the lack of restorative REM sleep. Patients often complain about fatigue, moodiness, increased appetite, and irritability. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen, and cause serious health issues, such as diabetes and depression.

Our expert in sleep apnea in Northridge can diagnose patients with a sleep study. Possible treatments include weight loss, adjusted sleeping positions, and oral devices. If these tactics are unsuccessful, a CPAP machine may be recommended.