The ABCs of Sleep Apnea
What happens if you have all the clinical signs of Sleep Apnea, like snoring, grinding your teeth, drowsiness throughout the day, lack of energy, inability to concentrate? What happens if you find yourself suddenly falling asleep, even during activities like sports events or, worst of all situations, driving, or operating heavy equipment? You know something’s happening, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?
Sleep Apnea is a breathing problem, and can range anywhere from mildly irritating to deadly. It is a manifestation of the soft tissues and tongue collapsing the back of the throat, blocking the passage of air to the lungs. In severe cases, people can actually stop breathing for well over a minute at a time, then finally are able to get air by shifting of their lower jaw to open the airway—this is why people grind and clench. In some cases, it is related to the bite, but in others, it is simply the body trying to get the lower jaw to move, so that the airway opens up.
Snoring is important, because it is usually the symptom that bed-partners are most aware of. Shoot, not just bed partners, but anyone in the house. Those of you who have experienced such a thing know that sometimes there is no quiet in the entire house.
Just for clarification, only a physician can diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but as a dentist, I have the responsibility to treat the grinding and clenching of the teeth (“Bruxism”). Happily, the appliances that we make for that treatment quite frequently help drive down the seriousness of the Sleep Apnea.
Let’s discuss the A_B_C’s…
A.) is for Apnea, a sleep disorder that restricts breathing, and can cause a wide array of conditions, including most major medical maladies like diabetes and obesity.
B.) is for Bruxism, which is a subconscious grinding and clenching of teeth during sleep, the result of the mind telling the muscles to move the lower jaw forward or to the side to create an airway in the throat.
C.) is for CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which is a mechanical breather to force air into the lungs, and
D.). is for Dental Appliance to control Bruxism, and which, if designed properly, can open the airway and thus treat the OSA.
No single therapy works 100% of the time, but there are few drawbacks to our sleep appliances. Essentially, the lower jaw is pulled forward, and the airway in the throat opens up as a consequence. It is beautifully simple and requires no wires or machinery to install. Call today to find out more!