A good dentist can access all aspects of your oral health. That means evaluating your teeth, gums and even issues like jaw pains, headaches, and sleep apnea. Believe it or not, a qualified dentist can have the answers for your nagging headaches or constant sleepiness.
Today I want to share a special link to a quiz about sleep apnea: http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/pdf/Epworth.pdf. This is called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale exam. While an official diagnosis for sleep apnea will have to come at the dental office or through a sleep physician, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale will give you a great starting point. If you score a 9 or higher, it’s time for you to seek out a sleep apnea assessment.
In the meantime, I want to share a few facts about sleep apnea that you need to know.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when you experience pauses in breathing. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly or wake up gasping for air at night. As you might imagine — or have experienced first-hand — gasping for air or loud snoring can be disruptive to your bed partner. There are two forms of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when soft tissue obstructs the airways during sleep, and central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals for you to breathe during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Has Significant Short-term and Long-term Health Effects
Anytime you stop breathing, it is dangerous. Unfortunately, people have died in their sleep because of complications from sleep apnea. If you’re a football fan, you probably know the name Reggie White. He was a Super Bowl champion and a Hall of Famer. He also died because of complications from sleep apnea in 2004. His death sent shock waves across the athletic community, and since then, his family has spent time raising awareness about the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea.
In addition to sudden problems, there are also long-term health risks to consider with sleep apnea. Patients with sleep apnea have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Waking up throughout the night also makes it harder to focus throughout the day. Sleep apnea is such a concern in the U.S. that there is a debate on whether or not truck drivers should be required to undergo sleep apnea testing.
Treat Sleep Apnea With Comfortable Oral Appliance
If you’re familiar with sleep at all, you probably have read a little about CPAP machines. The CPAP machine has a simple task in that it constantly pushes air into the lungs while you sleep. The machine has a hose attachment and you’ll have to wear the mask while you sleep. If you Google a picture the CPAP mask, you probably question the comfort of the device. Many patients have the same problem. Studies show that patients who have been prescribed a CPAP machine only wear the device 50 percent of the time. A 50 percent compliance rate isn’t good.
That’s why we offer a different way to treat sleep apnea. We can create a custom mouthguard for you to wear at night. The mouthguard is designed to move the lower jaw forward during sleep. This movement keeps the airways open, reducing your sleep apnea symptoms. Your snoring will reduce, and you’ll start to wake up feeling more refreshed. Our patients who wear the oral appliance notice a change almost immediately. They feel better in the morning, and they discover energy they never knew they had.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you scored high on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale test or have been told that you gasp for air throughout the night, now’s the time to treat your issues. Sleep apnea is a dangerous, potentially life-threatening problem. Don’t let it control your life. You can call our office today at 770-615-7326 to schedule a consultation.