Sleep Apnea Therapy – Portland, OR
Get Better Sleep for Better Days
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects how you breathe while sleeping. For sufferers, normal breathing can be interrupted for 10 seconds or more hundreds of times during a single night. Untreated sleep apnea prevents you from getting enough deep, restorative sleep. Without it, you may be tired all the time, lack mental sharpness, and be less productive. Long term health effects can be serious, including weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. That's why we offer sleep apnea therapy for Portland, OR dental patients. To start getting better sleep for better days, give us a call!
Why Choose Advanced Dental Arts NW For Sleep Apnea Therapy?
- Customized Treatment for Restful Sleep
- Dentist with More Than 3 Decades of Experience
- Friendly, Caring Dental Team
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder that causes the upper airway to become blocked by the surrounding soft tissues during sleep, which restricts the passage of air into the lungs. When a patient’s sleep apnea is mild, the worst symptom may simply be a case of nightly snoring. However, OSA can progress to the point where the airway becomes completely blocked for a full minute or more per episode. During this time, no air gets in or out of the lungs.
When the body subconsciously realizes it is suffocating, it tries to shift the jaw to create more room for the tongue. This shifting motion causes the patient’s teeth to grind together, a condition clinically known as bruxism. Once the body has shifted to reopen the airway, breathing resumes and the body begins to relax. Unfortunately, this just starts another cycle where the lower jaw pulls back and the tongue is once again forced into the back of the throat. The patient can no longer breathe, and the body uncomfortably shifts to reopen the airway again and again.
If you have ever tried to hold your breath for more than a minute, then you know just how difficult it is to make it to the full 60 seconds. With some people, breathing stoppages of up to a minute can happen frequently throughout the night and absolutely prevent a decent night’s sleep. In the most severe cases, obstructive sleep apnea can actually be fatal. While nightly snoring may seem more amusing than serious, untreated sleep apnea can be deadly, which is why seeking sleep apnea treatment in Portland, OR is so important.
The Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
As might well be expected, not breathing properly during sleep can translate into anything from snoring to an outright medical emergency of essentially self-suffocation. The most common warning signs of sleep apnea are:
- Loud, chronic snoring.
- Teeth grinding at night (bruxism)
- Jaw soreness, morning headaches, or chipped teeth.
- Gasping for air in the middle of the night.
- Waking up often at night.
- Forgetfulness, irritability, and depression.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Daytime drowsiness.
- Lack of energy.
- Falling asleep throughout the day, even during activities, events, or driving.
What To Do If You Think You Have Sleep Apnea
If you suspect that you might have sleep apnea in some stage, call us to schedule an appointment. We can provide a take-home sleep monitor that you wear for one night, which collects all the data necessary to diagnose OSA. It also records the occurrence of any teeth grinding during sleep as well. If it appears that you may have OSA, we will work with your physician to get you an appliance and nip this problem at the earliest possible time.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects over 20 million people in the US alone. However, since sleep apnea only occurs during rest, many patients may not even realize they suffer from it until a restless bed partner or roommate complains about their snoring habit. Fortunately, sleep apnea is easily diagnosable with our in-home apnea test. One night wearing a comfortable sleep monitor will provide Dr. Teasdale the information needed to make a tentative apnea diagnosis. Our dental office will then forward that data to a physician for a definitive diagnosis.
Your Options for Treating Sleep Apnea
A few years ago, Apple had a wonderful commercial that asked: “What is the best computer?” The answer, of course, was, “The one that gets used.” The most sophisticated things in the world will not be used as much as the simpler ones if they are less comfortable or convenient and if both do the job equally well, right? When it comes to treating sleep apnea the same logic applies. The treatment that works best will be the one that you are dedicated to using regularly! Read on as we cover three main treatments for sleep apnea.
The CPAP Machine for Sleep Apnea
Traditionally, physicians have prescribed a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine to treat apnea patients. A patient will wear a mask over their face that is hooked up to a machine. The machine pushes air through the mask, ensuring there is a constant supply of air. While CPAP machines are very effective in forcing air past any blockage and down the throat, the machine also tends to be bulky, noisy, and restrictive. Featuring a series of hoses and a pump, getting hooked up to a CPAP machine can often feel like being on life support. Well, that’s because in many ways, it IS life support.
If you have a CPAP unit and want something more comfortable, call us! We will work with your physician to see if this is possible. Or, if you would like a take-home sleep test for an evening to screen the quality of your rest, we can help you with that as well.
Dental Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea
While physicians tackle the treatment of apnea one way, dentists see it differently. In the vast majority of cases, we can treat nocturnal teeth grinding (bruxism), and in doing so also reduce OSA. Our removable sleep appliances work by bringing the lower jaw forward during sleep, which in turn increases the room for the tongue remain forward and away from the back of the throat. This means that there is less obstruction to the airway. Additionally, they pull the soft tissues of the throat forward and open the airway. The result is an easier and greater flow of air during sleep, leading to higher quality rest. It is a simple and straightforward solution that completely does away with tubes and pumps, replacing them instead with a single, custom-manufactured dental appliance.
Can a simple nighttime mouthguard really prevent sleep apnea and nightly snoring? Absolutely! In fact, sleep dental appliances are recognized by the Association of Sleep Physicians as equal in effectiveness to CPAP machines as a primary treatment for sleep apnea (with the exception of extremely severe cases). Patients are also more likely to use their apnea treatment when they don’t have to wear a cumbersome mask to bed every night.
Home Treatments for Minor Sleep Apnea
If your sleep apnea case is relatively minor, there are little things you can do at home to address your condition, including:
- Avoid sleeping on your back because your tongue is more likely to block your airway.
- Elevate your head using extra pillows or a body wedge.
- Open your nasal passage via breathing strips, saline nasal flush, or a nasal dilator.
- Lose weight.
The Ideal Alternative to the CPAP
CPAP units serve a vital and necessary, life-saving purpose: they ensure an adequate amount of air reaches the lungs of persons with OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea). Sometimes, and for extreme cases, they are the only possible treatment. But for a large percentage of OSA sufferers, and especially those who prefer to sidestep the cumbersome masks and tubes and noise of the CPAPs, there is an alternative. An alternative that is more comfortable, silent, and just as effective. So effective that it is recognized, equally with CPAPs, as a primary method of controlling OSA.
Dental sleep appliances for sleep apnea work by bringing the jaw forward and downward, creating more room for the tongue to move out of the back of the throat. This simple but effective method offers several key advantages over the CPAP, including:
- More comfortable and less confining
- Completely silent
- Protects the teeth from grinding at night
- No hoses, pumps, masks, or other machinery
- Extremely portable and easy to take with you anywhere
- Equally as effective as CPAP units in addressing OSA
And because they are so comfortable and easy to use, patients wear them more frequently, which in turn makes them more effective.
Why See a Dentist for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
Just for clarification, only a trained physician can officially diagnose a patient with Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Portland, OR. However, as an experienced dentist, Dr. Teasdale has the ability to identify the warning signs of this sleeping condition. Plus, not only can he treat the grinding and clenching of the teeth (“bruxism”) that comes with sleep apnea, but he offers both testing an custom-made appliances to detect and address sleep apnea.
No single appliance works perfectly for everyone, but we work with the best ones available, using appliances that are custom-made with highly-advanced computer assisted design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. Each one is custom-made from material that is designed to be comfortable and last for many years. Our oral appliances for sleep apnea are beautifully simple and require no wires or machinery to wear.
Breathe Easy While You Sleep
The team at Advanced Dental Arts NW takes OSA very seriously. If you or someone you know suffers from OSA or is tired of wearing their CPAP machine, please give us a call. We can create a far more comfortable appliance that will help prevent teeth grinding as well as greatly improve sleep apnea for most patients. And, because sleep apnea is considered a medical condition, your insurance may cover a significant portion of the device.
Call today to schedule a sleep apnea consultation . Everyone needs and deserves a good night’s rest, and we’ve already helped countless patients get exactly that!
Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions
Sleep apnea is one of those health issues that gets mentioned a lot, but most people couldn’t tell you the specifics of the condition. This uncertainty can make seeking out treatment much more difficult and nerve-racking, which is why, below, we’ve gone ahead and answered some of the most common questions we receive about the subject.
Is sleep apnea a big deal?
Many believe that the main concern with sleep apnea is a loss of rest, but that’s actually just the tip of the iceberg. Untreated sleep apnea has been proven to lead to much more serious and deadly conditions, namely heart problems. In fact, it’s estimated that about 30,000 fatal cardiac events occur each year that are directly connected to sleep apnea, as the frequent pauses in breathing are very stressful on the body (plus they cause chronically high blood pressure). Also, sleep deprivation makes someone three times more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident, which is even worse than drunk driving!
Does snoring automatically mean someone has sleep apnea?
While loud, frequent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, it isn’t always an indicator of the condition. Many people without sleep apnea snore. However, if a person is frequently tired and experiences the other symptoms listed above in addition to snoring, then sleep apnea is very likely. Research also shows that those who snore are much more likely to develop sleep apnea in the future, so things like weight gain and using sedatives too close to bed (i.e. certain medications and alcohol) should be avoided.
How common is sleep apnea?
Right now, the Sleep Foundation estimates that about 22 million Americans are suffering from sleep apnea, and this includes adults, seniors, and children. However, because the primary symptoms occur while someone is unconscious, many cases go undiagnosed. According to researchers, the best guess is that about 80% of sleep apnea cases are currently undocumented. This, combined with OSA’s connection to the growing obesity problem in the U.S., means that sleep apnea is fairly common even though it often isn’t talked about. You likely know someone who has it!
What can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea?
The biggest risk factor for sleep apnea is weight gain. Excess fat deposits can place pressure on the throat, so when someone lays down to sleep, this makes the airway more prone to collapsing and becoming blocked. Sleep deprivation has also been proven to mess with someone’s hunger hormones, making it more difficult for them to become full, causing them to frequently overeat. This leads to more weight and greater sleeping difficulties. Fortunately, research has shown that with professional treatment and weight loss, the symptoms of sleep apnea can be greatly diminished and even eliminated in some cases.
Will sleep apnea ever go away on its own?
Unfortunately, it is extremely rare that sleep apnea will simply go away on its own. Because it usually stems from things like excessive body weight, the anatomy of the upper airway, or even neurological issues in some cases, once it starts, the only way it will stop is with professional treatment. Despite its persistence, the condition has been proven to be very treatable, and patients who follow their doctor’s recommendations typically see a dramatic reduction or even elimination of symptoms.
Is sleep apnea genetic?
Certain factors that can lead to OSA are genetic, such as having a naturally narrow airway, a larger than average tongue, or thick neck. However, the leading contributors to sleep apnea are obesity, smoking tobacco, and alcohol consumption within a few hours of going to bed, all of which are not connected to genetics. Even if someone is genetically predisposed to developing sleep apnea, it does not automatically mean that they will. And, treatment will basically be the same whether someone’s condition is due to genetics or not.
Can sleep apnea be fatal?
While sleep apnea itself is not fatal, it can lead to conditions or situations that often are. Sleep deprived drivers are 3X more likely to get into an accident (which is even worse compared to drunk driving), and OSA can also lead to chronic hypertension. High blood pressure is strongly connected to an elevated risk of stroke and heart attack, which is why sleep apnea is associated with roughly 35,000 cardiovascular-related deaths in the U.S. every year.
Are morning headaches and jaw pain signs of sleep apnea?
Yes! Particularly in cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the pauses in breathing and frequent awakenings can lead to teeth grinding and clenching that causes strain in the muscles of the face and head, creating pain felt in the morning that seems to come out of nowhere. This is extremely common, and patients who notice this in addition to feeling tired all the time and being told they snore should schedule a screening with Dr. Teasdale sooner rather than later. This cannot only help them stop the pain and get treatment for a sleep problem, but early intervention can also potentially save their teeth from wearing down or cracking prematurely!