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Sleep Apnea, Your Dentist, and You

Do you find yourself drinking more and more coffee, despite having eight full hours of sleep? Can’t seem to feel rested, no matter what you do? Does your family complain about your snoring? Well, you just may have sleep apnea, a condition affecting nearly one in every 15 Americans. That is nearly 18 million Americans. Sleep apnea comes in a few forms in differing severity but functions the same.

When you sleep, tissue in the throat collapse and squeeze, cutting off your air intake, directly impacting the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. When your oxygen levels drop enough, your body will wake you up. However, when you are woken up, it is usually so brief that you will rarely notice. Sufferers of “mild” sleep apnea will wake up from 5 to 15 times per night. “Severe” sufferers, up to 30. Talk about a rough night.

The good news is, however, that your friendly Valencia dentist can help you if you fear you may suffer from sleep apnea. Your dentist can fit your mouth with a custom mouthpiece designed to pull your jaw forward while you sleep, limiting the tissue pressure that can pinch your airways. They can also set you up with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which is an air pump that helps keep your airways open. However, the CPAP machines are a pricier option for most, so the mouthpiece is an effective option for those suffering with milder forms of apnea.

If the mouthpieces and CPAP machine fail, surgery is a last resort option. The surgeon will reshape and shave various tissue found in your throat and nasal passages, creating as much space as possible to allow the best airflow. Naturally, this is a major surgery, so should be considered if all other treatments have failed you.
If you have any concerns about sleep apnea, now is the time to talk to your dentist about it. Studies have indicated that continued hypoxia, a lack of oxygen caused by sleep apnea, can actually promote tumor and vascular growth, which increases your odds (almost 4.8 times) of succumbing to cancer.

Your friendly Valencia dentist would be more than happy to help you get a restful, quiet night of sleep. For both you and your partner.