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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea


Millions of Americans suffer from this condition, a seemingly moderate problem that can have serious and unexpected consequences. If you’ve been accused of loud snoring, or wake up feeling like you haven’t rested at all, you many have a sleep-related disorder. Below are several risk factors you should consider as well as options for sleep apnea treatment.What is sleep apnea?This is a sleep disorder characterized by temporary lapses in breathing. These interruptions to normal breathing can last up to a minute, or even longer. Obstructive sleep problems occur when soft tissues in the back of the throat relax, obstructing the flow of air through the breathing passages. This can be caused by changes in muscle tone, obesity, or structural problems in the skull or face. Other sleep problems may be caused when the brain simply fails to signal our body to breathe. There are other medical conditions that can lead to sleep disorders.Obstructive sleep disruption can affect people of any age, including children. Those with higher risk factors include:

  • Tooth pain
  • Those over 40
  • Being overweight
  • Having enlarged tonsils or tongue, or a small jawbone
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux)
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Nasal obstruction due to sinus problems, allergies, or a deviated septum

What are the health risks?

Sleep apnea issues can happen hundreds of times over the course of a night, which will deprive the brain and body of precious oxygen. Sleep disorders and loss of sleep can lead to such health risks as:

  • Heart problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease or heart failure, or stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Loss of memory
  • Elevated ADHD in children
  • Lingering drowsiness during waking hours, which can lead to poor performance at work and school, motor vehicle accidents, and other functional problems related to these risk factors.

How do you treat this problem?

Traditionally the treatment involves use of a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) sleeping mask that forces air under pressure into the breathing passages. This is either a fitted mask or nose prongs inserted into the nasal passages, worn before going to bed. However many patients, understandably, report this as an uncomfortable solution that may cause as many sleep issues as it solves.

Studies show that many types of obstructive sleep interruption can be treated with a dental appliance that helps to keep the airways open. This is a mouth-guard like device inserted before lying down to sleep. If generally works by forcing the jaw forward, thus opening up the throat behind the tongue. It is fitted to the patient and adjustable going forward as needed. Most patients report this is a much more comfortable treatment. Other advantages to a dental device is that it is compact and therefore highly portable when traveling outside the St. George, Utah area. In addition, it needs no maintenance beyond regular cleaning.

Recent studies at the University of New South Wales saw significant improvement in two-thirds of patients suffering from obstructive sleep problems when using such oral devices. This included a range of patients with everything from mild obstructions to severe sleep loss. Sleep studies showed that breathing events due to obstruction were reduced from an average of 25 a night to 5 or less when a dental device was used.

Plumb Dental Offers Sleep Apnea Treatment

Oral appliance therapy is the better alternative for problems related to snoring, breathing obstructions, and related problems. Improved sleep means restored energy and alertness, as well as better overall health. Your dentist can provide one as recommended by a physician. These devices are usually covered by medical insurance as an accepted form of treatment for obstructive sleeping disorders. Impressions are made using physical or digital models taken from your own mouth and made at a Utah dental lab. When the device is prepared, you’ll be scheduled for a fitting when your dentist can adjust the appliance to achieve maximum comfort and effectiveness. Patients will be instructed on how to use the device and maintain good hygiene. Follow up visits are generally needed to ensure the oral appliance continues to function optimally. Sleep studies may be in order to ensure improvement is taking place.

If you’re in the St. George, Utah area and you’re suffering from snoring or sleep related issues, you may want to come to our office and get fitted with your own unique appliance to get back to enjoying a good night’s sleep.

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