Few things are as frustrating as trying to fall asleep while your partner is snoring loudly enough to score on the Richter scale. If this happens regularly, or if your partner wakes up gasping throughout the night, it’s time to schedule a doctor’s appointment for him or her. These are classic signs of obstructive sleep apnea, and without treatment, this sleep disorder could lead to life-threatening complications.
The good news is that sleep apnea is also treatable with just a quick trip to your dentist’s office.
Sleep apnea doesn’t just cause snoring and gasping for air during sleep—these are only symptoms of the underlying problem. This sleep disorder happens when the airway becomes obstructed by soft tissue, preventing breathing. The brain then temporarily rouses the person from sleep to restart breathing. Often, patients don’t realize they’re waking up dozens or more times each night.
Cardiovascular complications can develop because of the repeated drop in oxygen levels. Each time the oxygen level drops, blood pressure rises. Over time, untreated sleep apnea may lead to hypertension. In turn, high blood pressure increases the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, heart arrhythmias, and stroke. Men with sleep apnea also appear to be at an increased risk of heart failure—a condition in which the heart cannot pump as much blood as the body needs.
Sleep apnea patients suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. Even if they are unaware of waking up dozens of times each night, it still disrupts the natural sleep cycle, leaving them unable to get deep, restorative sleep.
Two of the many organs sleep deprivation can affect are the kidneys. The kidneys are regulated in part by the natural circadian rhythm of wakefulness and sleep. Specifically, the circadian rhythm influences the metabolism of sodium and potassium. Evidence suggests that the drop in blood oxygen saturation causes accelerated kidney function decline. In other words, people with untreated sleep apnea are at a higher risk of chronic kidney disease.
At some point, everyone experiences the side effects of sleep deprivation. It causes daytime fatigue, lack of concentration and attention span, and a reduced capacity for judgment, reasoning, and decision making. It also slows reaction times. Patients with sleep apnea can experience these problems every day, which dramatically increases the risk of daytime accidents like car crashes and workplace incidents. Some of these can be deadly.
CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, may be necessary in cases of severe sleep apnea. But patients with only mild cases may be able to avoid sleeping with a bulky, uncomfortable mask and hose thanks to advanced dental treatments. Here at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry, we’re committed to helping our patients live life well.
Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot can fit you with a small, comfortable oral appliance—no mask or hose needed! The oral appliance works by gently repositioning your jaw while you sleep to prevent your airway from closing. Call our sleep apnea dentists in Suffolk County, Long Island today at 631-319-9509 and request our next available consultation. You’ll be sleeping better and improving your health in no time!
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