Sleep Apnea Dentistry

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep, causing breathing to stop temporarily.

How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep. People with OSA may experience morning headaches, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and frequent nighttime urination. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

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How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep. People with OSA may experience morning headaches, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and frequent nighttime urination. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

Loud or frequent snoring
Silent pauses in breathing during sleep
Choking or gasping sounds
Waking up feeling unrefreshed
Daytime drowsiness or fatigue
Morning headaches
Waking up frequently to use the bathroom
Difficulty concentrating or remembering things

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

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CPAP Machine

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines are the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine delivers a steady stream of air through a mask to keep the airway open during sleep. While effective, some people find CPAP machines uncomfortable or difficult to use consistently.

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Oral Appliances

Custom-made oral appliances, also known as mandibular advancement devices (MADs), are a comfortable and discreet alternative to CPAP machines. These devices gently shift the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open during sleep. Oral appliances are small, portable, and easy to care for.

Health Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

• High blood pressure - OSA can cause oxygen levels to drop, increasing adrenaline and leading to high blood pressure.

• Stroke - Untreated OSA and high blood pressure increase the risk of stroke.

• Heart issues - Studies suggest untreated OSA increases the risk of congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and coronary artery disease. 

• Blood sugar and metabolism problems - OSA can cause insulin resistance, alter glucose metabolism, and increase the risk of diabetes.

• Cancer - People with OSA are more likely to develop cancer, and untreated OSA may promote tumor growth.

Mental health and Alzheimer's - OSA has been associated with depression, mood issues, and increased risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Impaired cognitive functioning - Untreated OSA can lead to issues with thinking, reasoning, memory, and brain fog.

• Fatigue and accidents
- Daytime sleepiness caused by OSA increases the risk of car crashes and other accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

OSA must be diagnosed by a doctor. Your primary care physician may provide a diagnosis or refer you to a sleep specialist. A sleep evaluation, which may involve an overnight sleep test at a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test, will be used to determine if you have OSA.

Will an oral appliance cure my sleep apnea?

Oral appliances treat sleep apnea by stabilizing the jaw to keep the upper airway open, but they do not cure the condition. The FDA has not approved any dental device to cure sleep apnea. Oral appliances must be worn every night to effectively manage OSA symptoms.

Are there any side effects to using an oral appliance or CPAP machine?

Some people may experience discomfort or minor side effects when using an oral appliance, such as temporary jaw soreness, tooth sensitivity, or excessive salivation. These issues usually resolve with time and adjustments by your dentist. CPAP side effects may include nasal congestion, dry mouth, skin irritation from the mask, and feelings of claustrophobia.

What follow-up care is necessary in my sleep apnea treatment?

Regular follow-up appointments with your sleep dentist are essential for ensuring your oral appliance remains effective and comfortable. Your dentist will make any necessary adjustments and monitor for potential side effects, such as tooth movement. If you experience any pain or discomfort with your appliance, contact Dr. Ghina Morad at (650) 592-6396 right away. Consistent use and proper maintenance of your oral appliance or CPAP machine are crucial for successful sleep apnea treatment.

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