Sleep Apnea – what the heck is it?!

Sleep Apnea - What the heck is it

Many people have heard of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), but what exactly is it? Sleep apnea happens due to obstructions in the lower or upper airway (throat and/or nose) during sleep. This results in lowered oxygen levels throughout the night. In response to low oxygen levels (oxidative stress), the body secretes stress hormones and adrenaline to wake you up and trigger you to breathe so that you don’t die from lack of breathing. When you are constantly being woken up all night, you will often feel unrefreshed and tired, despite getting an adequate amount of sleep. The oxidative stress from repeated episodes of low oxygen levels results in a MULTITUDE of systemic health issues, including cardiac issues like hypertension and coronary artery disease, Type II diabetes, hypothyroidism, IBS, anxiety/depression, and many more. In the earlier stages of disease, you also might just feel fatigued. Many people normalize their tiredness and blame it on life – but remember that what’s common is not always normal, and feeling chronically tired is definitely not normal.

It is estimated that ONE BILLION people worldwide have sleep apnea. Could you be one of them?! Sleep apnea affects infants, children, men and women, thin people, fit people, obese people…ALL people! OSA used to be thought of as a disease that primarily affected obese men, and while obesity is a risk factor, we now understand that there are MANY risk factors for OSA.

Do I have OSA? Maybe! Some signs that you might have an airway problem include:

  • Snoring
  • Falling asleep while watching TV on the couch
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking up during the night to use the restroom/prolonged bed wetting
  • Taking multiple blood pressure medications
  • Experiencing anxiety/depression
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Clenching and grinding your teeth (or currently using a night guard)
  • Bed partner witnessing episodes of no breathing/choking/gasping
  • Erectile dysfunction/reduced libido
  • Diagnosis of ADHD

How do we diagnose sleep apnea?

At Vitality Dental, we use the Alice NightOne home sleep test to test for airway issues in adults. With this device, you are able to sleep in the comfort of your own bed! Upon returning the device to our office, we upload the data and send it to a sleep physician for a diagnosis. The sleep physician sends us a detailed report with your diagnosis, which we will review with you in a consultation approximately 1 week later.

How do we treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Dentists treat OSA using Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD), sometimes called dental sleep devices. This device, which looks like two night guards, works by pushing the lower jaw forward. When we move the lower jaw forward, the tongue and tissues move forward and away from the airway, helping to keep you safe at night. This oral appliance is custom made for your mouth. Proper fit is important since an incorrectly fitted device can cause more issues.

MADs can also treat snoring issues that are not caused by sleep apnea (aka primary snoring).

Oral appliances are a great option for sleep apnea sufferers. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be more affordable than continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines due to less long term maintenance. Oral appliance therapy is less invasive than surgery and more comfortable than CPAP. In addition to these benefits, the clinical effectiveness is perhaps the largest advantage. THEY WORK!

If you are tired and can’t figure out why, are struggling with systemic health issues, or just HATE your CPAP, contact us and get tested because knowledge is power!

Request an appointment online using the “How Can We Help” form below or give us a call to schedule an appointment at (816) 452-9700.

Vitality Family Dental - Kansas City Northland