Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Health Risks and Treatment

Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that poses serious health risks. Its most common symptom is snoring, but most people who snore do not realize that they actually have sleep apnea. The estimated average life span of a person with untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is about 20 years shorter than the US average life expectancy.

Apnea refers to a transient cessation of breathing. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the repetitive obstruction of the upper airway during sleep time, often resulting in oxygen desaturation and frequent arousals from sleep. People who suffer from OSA can stop breathing from 5 to over 100 times per hour! When you sleep the muscles of your body relax, including your tongue and throat muscles. Often, the relaxed tongue falls back into the relaxed throat and completely blocks the airway.

Snoring occurs when the airway is only partially blocked and the noise is created by vibrating throat tissues as the air passes through. In addition to snoring, other symptoms of sleep apnea include unrefreshing sleep, poor concentration, excessive daytime sleepiness, and general fatigue. Another common symptom is bruxism – clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth – while sleeping.

Health Risks of OSA

Left untreated, sleep apnea is truly a life threatening medical condition. Studies have shown that patients with OSA will have an increased incidence of:

• coronary artery diseases

• hypertension

• congestive heart failure

• strokes

• gastroesophageal reflux disease

• weight gain

• diabetes

• depression

• worsening of ADHD

The goals of OSA treatments are to restore regular breathing during sleep and relieve associated symptoms such as loud snoring. Treatment usually relieves bruxism as well.

Pediatric Sleep Disorders

Most people do not realize that sleep disorders occur in children as well as adults. Researchers believe that the significant increase in OSA among children is due to the epidemic of childhood obesity. Because sleep disorders usually have significant negative impacts on children’s lives, every effort should be made to detect and treat these conditions. Parents can greatly aid the identification of sleep disorders by observing their children sleeping. In addition, it may be helpful to record a video of the child sleeping. Our experts can provide parents with a questionnaire to help you identify symptoms of OSA in your child.

OSA Treatment at 7 Day Dental

Dr. Frank Burrell has years of experience diagnosing and treating OSA patients at 7 Day Dental. He uses the most advanced techniques and state-of- the-art technology to diagnose and treat sleep disorders, snoring and bruxism. While doctors often prescribe a Continuous Positive Air Pathway (CPAP) machine to treat OSA, many people find it uncomfortable and noisy, and patient compliance is low. By contrast, Dr Burrell treats patients with a custom-fitted, comfortable oral appliance worn while sleeping.

In oral appliance therapy, a special oral device is used to support your jaw’s forward position or to adjust the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open and unobstructed. The oral appliance is only worn at night or during sleep. Studies have shown that oral appliance therapy effectively treats OSA, snoring and bruxism.

There are several different types in a variety of materials, and experts such as Dr. Burrell can determine which type will work best for each patient. Most people adapt to wearing it far more easily than a CPAP machine.

“As a dentist who has been treating sleep apnea and snoring for a long time, I will do everything I can to help you get the proper treatment you need to enjoy the benefits of a full night’s sleep.”

Dr. Frank Burrell