Obstructive Sleep Apnea is one of the most common undiagnosed disorders, affecting more than 18 million Americans according to the National Sleep Foundation. Because symptoms are primarily present only when we are asleep, many sufferers are completely unaware of their condition. If left untreated, however, sleep apnea can have significant consequences on systemic and overall health.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition caused by a blockage of the airway, when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. While these events may go unnoticed during the night, you will wake up feeling tired, even after a “full night’s rest.” Each time you stop breathing, it not only affects the quality of your sleep, which affects the quality of your life and your overall health in many ways, but it prevents sufficient oxygen from reaching the brain, which can cause significant health problems, and even death.
How do I know if I have Sleep Apnea?
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Restless sleep
- Sleepiness during the day
- Lack of concentration
- Dry, sore throat
What are the risk factors for Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age (even children), there are some known demographics and risk factors that may contribute. Risk factors include being:
- Over the age of 40
What happens if Sleep Apnea is left untreated?
If left untreated, sleep apnea can have drastic consequences on your systemic and overall health, and in some cases, can even cause death. Health problems and side effects include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
How does a dentist treat Sleep Apnea?
The traditional approach to treating sleep apnea involves a bulky, invasive CPAP Machine, which uses air pressure to prevent the airway from collapsing. However, many patients find this treatment intolerable – the machine is bulky and noisy, and does not allow for restful sleep. Your Fort Wayne dentist uses a treatment method known as Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). This is a fancy term for a custom mouth guard that you wear at night that adjusts the position of the jaw, and prevents the airway from collapsing.
If you think you or a loved one might be suffering from sleep apnea, or you’ve already been diagnosed, but are intolerant to the CPAP machine, call Dr. Diehl & Dr. Hemphill today at (260) 489-1100 to schedule a consultation. At Dupont Family Dentistry, not only your oral health, but your overall health is our top priority.