This dentist may save the day…and night.
Snoring is NOT cool! We all have stories about someone we know who rattles the walls (maybe it’s you). What you may not know is that it can be deadly.
That classic snoring sound, not to be confused with a Harley, is caused by a partial obstruction of the airway in the back of the throat. If you have heard a snoring person suddenly stop breathing, then gasp for air, you have witnessed an ‘apnea’. Now the problem is no longer just annoying. It is potentially life threatening.
Sleep apnea is a common, progressive disease which affects a large segment of our population including children. It gets worse as we grow older…if you get a chance to grow older. Obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by 3-4 times, increases blood sugar and complicates diabetes control, increases blood pressure and has been shown to decrease life expectancy by ten to twenty years. It often results in a feeling of excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and a general lack of energy. It is also highly correlated with morning time headache, migraine headache, depression, acid reflux disease and tooth grinding. It has even been shown to decrease cognitive thinking ability over time. It is no laughing matter.
Historically, sleep apnea has been managed by the use of a pressurized breathing machine called CPAP, bi-PAP, or other names. They typically involve the use of a compressor, a humidifier, a hose and a mask, which delivers air under pressure to help keep the airway from collapsing. It has been shown to be very effective at controlling obstructive sleep apnea and snoring, and absolutely if you have severe apnea and can tolerate it, you should use it. However, the list of reasons why many people don’t use the machine is quite long and includes inconvenience, discomfort, noise, lifestyle and more.
THE GOOD NEWS is that there is now an alternative therapy that has been shown to be nearly as effective managing sleep apnea and snoring as pressure machines without the hassle. A specially trained dentist can provide you with a custom oral airway dilator for use at night. Similar in appearance to orthodontic retainers, they fit over your teeth and work by either moving your lower jaw forward slightly or by placing gentle pressure on the tongue to keep it from falling back. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends this concept as first line therapy for anyone diagnosed with mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea, or even for severe cases when a person in not tolerant of CPAP.
Proper evaluation and examination of your mouth and airway, as well as the condition of your TMJs (the jaw joints), selection of the appropriate device and custom fabrication, all help ensure the best possible fit and effectiveness. It may even be covered by medical insurance.
Don’t risk your life! Sleep better. Feel better. Live longer. If you think you, or someone you know, may have this condition then pick up the phone. The treatment may be easier than you think. Sleep Matters Center for Apnea Management is a dental based clinic devoted to providing care for people suffering from sleep apnea and can be reached at 928-778-4555.
J.C. Goodwin, DMD, DACSDD, is a general dentist in practice for over twenty-five years, utilizing dental lasers, non-surgical periodontal therapy and same-day crown technology. He is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, and holds a Diplomate credential in dental sleep medicine from the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Dentistry. He has extensive training in this field and created ‘Sleep Effect Center for Apnea Management’ in 2009 dedicated to sleep apnea therapy.