Defining Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders individuals deal with. It’s a condition that is caused by a blocked airway, leading to various symptoms such as snoring, choking, and insomnia. Sleep apnea may be caused by various other things such as problems with your jaw, obesity, sleeping on your back, or consumption of certain medication or alcohol before bedtime.
At Progressive Dentistry, Sleep & Wellness, we know the consequences sleep apnea can have on daily rest and future health. Over the years, our Glen Mills sleep specialist has worked closely with patients to create personalized treatment plans that help regain a good night’s rest.
The Trouble with Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Despite sleep apnea being a common sleep disorder, a number of people go undiagnosed and therefore, have not received any treatment to alleviate their discomfort. Lack of treatment and diagnosis occurs because sleep apnea is difficult to identify in the first place.
Because sleep apnea occurs while patients are asleep, few realize that they are not breathing while they sleep or that they are waking up frequently throughout the night. In many cases, it is a partner, family member, or roommate that hears the deep snoring or choking and tells the patient about their sleeping habits.
A physician might also miss signs of sleep apnea while treating their patients for other symptoms. Often, people only visit the doctor when they feel ill, limiting a doctor’s ability to diagnose cases of sleep apnea. A dentist is more likely to detect signs of sleep apnea in a patient while doing a routine dental check-up. This usually occurs because people generally have more contact with their dentists than their physician throughout the year.
Sleep Apnea Screening at Progressive Dentistry, Sleep & Wellness
Our Glen Mills team is uniquely trained and experienced in identifying sleep apnea in our patients. During your routine cleaning every six months, we’ll evaluate your teeth, mouth, and jaw for signs that sleep apnea might be affecting your rest. If Dr. McCoy suspects your snoring or bruxism is being caused by this breathing condition, we’ll provide you with an easy-to-use overnight pulse-oximeter test, which will analyze your heart rate and blood oxygen levels as you sleep. If the results suggest you have sleep apnea, we’ll share this test with your physician, who will typically order a sleep test to make an official diagnosis.
Explore Sleep Apnea Treatments
Treatments for sleep apnea vary depending on the individual and the type of sleep apnea diagnosed. In some cases, treatment may be as simple as changing behavioral habits such as weight loss. However, other treatments include oral appliance therapy, surgery, and positional therapy.
At Progressive Dentistry, Sleep & Wellness, Dr. McCoy works in close collaboration with your physician to find the best solution for your case of sleep apnea. As a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, he has the experience to ensure you receive effective treatment.
While CPAP is often recommended as the best treatment, some patients are not able to tolerate this treatment. In these instances, our Glen Mills dentist can provide you with a custom-made oral appliance for snoring and sleep apnea.
If you believe you may have sleep apnea, give us a call at Progressive Dentistry, Sleep & Wellness. and set up a consultation with Dr. McCoy. We’re here to help! Call today!
Frequently Asked Questions
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a sleep study conducted by a team of sleep experts. These specialists will monitor the test as you sleep to make sure it’s correct, but you’ll be sleeping in a private and safe room.
Sometimes, take-home sleep tests are also available. With a home test, you’ll be able to sleep in your own bed and keep to your normal schedule. After you’ve completed your sleep study, return the equipment to your doctor so your results can be processed.
When you have a sleep apnea diagnosis, Dr. McCoy can help you find a treatment that’s comfortable for you.
When is sleep apnea dangerous?
Untreated sleep apnea always has the potential to be dangerous. Even if you currently have mild to moderate sleep apnea, it may worsen without treatment.
Sleep apnea is dangerous because your airway is obstructed while you’re asleep, preventing oxygen from getting to your brain throughout the night. This leads to health issues such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
The condition can also affect your ability to function on a daily basis. Some of the indirect risks of sleep apnea include a higher likelihood of being involved in an automobile accident and frequent unemployment.
Why does sleep apnea occur?
Sleep apnea occurs when the anatomy of your throat causes your airway to become blocked while you’re asleep. Even if you can breathe normally throughout the day, your throat muscles relax when you fall asleep. In people with sleep apnea, this obstructs your ability to breathe.
People in all stages and walks of life can have sleep apnea, but there are some factors that make it more likely. These include being older, male, overweight, or smoking. If you have a neck circumference of over 17 inches for men or 16 inches for women, you could have difficulty breathing at night.
Will sleep apnea go away?
No, sleep apnea will not go away on its own. Even with treatment, sleep apnea often doesn’t go away. It’s possible to reduce your symptoms and in some cases, sleep apnea can improve significantly. Diet, exercise, and sleep positional therapy may improve your symptoms alongside oral appliance treatment.
Permanent treatment options for sleep apnea, such as surgery, do exist. But due to the side effects of surgery, it’s reserved for only the most severe cases that see no progress with oral appliances or CPAP.
Dr. McCoy does offer Vivos, a potentially permanent sleep apnea treatment. Vivos has the ability to change the structure of your jaw to relieve sleep apnea symptoms.