The Silent Threat: The Importance of Screening for & Treating Sleep Apnea

Kansas City Sleep Apnea Screening & Therapy
Kansas City Sleep Apnea Screening & Therapy

Sleep Apnea Screening & Treatment – Kansas City

In our fast-paced world, sleep often takes a backseat to the demands of work, family, and social life. But what if I told you that neglecting your sleep could be putting your health at serious risk? Enter sleep apnea, a condition characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. While it may seem harmless, untreated sleep apnea can have far-reaching consequences for both physical and mental health.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is more than just snoring; it’s a potentially serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. There are three main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the muscles in the throat relax too much, causing a blockage of the airway.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this condition occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Regardless of the type, sleep apnea can lead to fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels, putting strain on the cardiovascular system and increasing the risk of conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. It’s also been linked to diabetes, obesity, and depression.

The Importance of Sleep Apnea Screening

One of the biggest challenges with sleep apnea is that it often goes undiagnosed. Many people aren’t aware that they have a problem because the symptoms, such as snoring and daytime fatigue, can be attributed to other causes. That’s why screening for sleep apnea is crucial, especially for those at higher risk, such as older adults, men, individuals who are overweight, and those with a family history of the condition.

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.

Treating Sleep Apnea

The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable, and effective treatment can significantly improve quality of life and reduce the risk of associated health problems. Treatment options for sleep apnea may include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy: This involves wearing a mask connected to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air to keep the airway open during sleep.
  • Oral Appliance Therapy: This involves wearing a custom-fitted oral appliance, similar to a mouthguard, that helps keep the throat open.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, and sleeping on your side rather than your back can all help reduce symptoms of sleep apnea.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove excess tissue from the throat or reposition the jaw to improve airflow.

Vitality Dental specializes in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea using an oral appliance or Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD), also sometimes called dental sleep devices. The key is finding the right treatment for each individual, as what works for one person may not work for another. This often requires working closely with a sleep specialist to monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.

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!

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have profound implications for health and well-being if left untreated. By raising awareness about the importance of screening for sleep apnea and advocating for access to effective treatment options, we can help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get the restful, rejuvenating sleep they need to thrive. Don’t let sleep apnea go undetected — take charge of your sleep health today by scheduling your consultation at Vitality Dental today.

Vitality Family Dental - Kansas City Northland