According to experts, roughly half of all Americans snore during sleep, and unfortunately, in far too many cases, their snoring is actually indicative of a dangerous condition known as sleep apnea. Simply speaking, sleep apnea is a breathing disruption characterized by a narrowing of the airway and relaxation of surrounding muscle and tissue.
Though the brain typically jolts an affected individual awake before true suffocation can occur, sleep apnea can produce a number of serious problems. The good news is that improvements in treatment techniques are helping many achieve a much greater quality of life.
It is thought that anywhere between 18 and 20 million in the U.S. have sleep apnea, but 8 out of ever 10 sufferers have not been formally diagnosed with the condition. The resulting lack of treatment can lead to fatigue, headaches and other inconveniences, not to mention significant health risks. The repeated interruptions in breathing caused by sleep apnea add an alarming degree of stress on the hearts of those affected, boosting the likelihood of stroke, hypertension, irregular heartbeat and even heart failure.
Though numerous theories exist as to how sleep apnea develops, physicians have determined that specific risk factors exist which increase the chances a particular individual will suffer from the condition. Males are more likely to experience sleep apnea than females, though the latter group will see a jump in risk after menopause.
Obesity is another contributor to many cases of sleep apnea, along with diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol or drug use and hereditary predisposition. Individuals who are already aware that they have a snoring problem need to realize that they are at heightened risk of sleep apnea than those who do not snore.
Those who learn they are indeed suffering from sleep apnea can take comfort in the fact that innovations in treating the condition have made such a diagnosis much more manageable than ever before. The two primary options for treating obstructive sleep apnea are the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or the use of a customized oral appliance.
A CPAP device helps maintain an open airway in patients while they are asleep by sending pressurized air through a mask that sits over the nose and mouth. Though often used to treat those with moderate or severe sleep apnea, there are many patients who simply cannot tolerate wearing the mask long enough to obtain its benefits.
At Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry, we have found that Oral Appliance Therapy is a far more effective treatment option for a large number of sleep apnea patients, and we pride ourselves in offering personalized solutions proven to achieve real results. The first step in obtaining an oral appliance designed to treat sleep apnea, patients will need to be referred by a primary care doctor. Then, our team of professionals will conduct a comprehensive oral exam, discuss all available treatment options, take impressions and craft a fully customized mouthpiece able to provide the relief so many patients have been seeking.
Dr. Elliot and Dr. Nick at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry understand the debilitating impact sleep apnea can have on the lives of patients and their sleep partners alike. Our Suffolk County dentists are committed to providing treatment options intended to alleviate snoring once and for all and to prevent the heath concerns attendant to nightly bouts of disrupted breathing.
To learn more about how we can help and to schedule a consultation, contact our office at 631-319-9509.
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