Did you know that your chronic snoring can be a symptom of a life-threatening health condition? While your snoring may cause some sleepless nights for your bed partner, its impact on your life can be considerably more serious. For many people, chronic loud snoring may indicate that they suffer from a dangerous condition called sleep apnea.
Dr. Joseph Henry has been specially trained to help patients suffering from sleep apnea recognize their ailment and achieve relief from this dangerous condition. Call 714-385-1672 to arrange your consultation today at Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry. We welcome patients from Tustin, Orange, Santa Ana, and other areas of Orange County.
- What is Sleep Apnea?
- Why Sleep Apnea is Dangerous
- Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
- Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Sleep Studies
- Oral Appliances for Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Test
- Read our Sleep Apnea Magazine Called Spotlight on Sleep
- Schedule Your Consultation for Sleep Apnea Therapy in Irvine Today
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects approximately 18 million Americans, but only about 10% of these cases have been diagnosed. There are several types of sleep apnea, but obstructive sleep apnea is the most common.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and block the airway while you are sleeping. This can cause your breathing to momentarily stop.
Your brain senses the interruption in breathing and wakes you up, causing a loud gasping sound. You may experience hundreds of these brief interruptions in your sleep during the night without even realizing it is happening.
Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
Sleep apnea has both long- and short-term consequences to your health and lifestyle. This constant stopping of breathing, the accompanying drop in your body’s oxygen levels, and the consequent waking can have a devastating effect on your health.
Short-term effects of sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, automobile accidents caused by driving drowsy, a decreased ability to concentrate, and difficulties with libido. Long-term effects are far more severe and life-threatening.
Sleep apnea patients are much more likely to suffer from strokes and heart problems. A person suffering from sleep apnea is 23 times more likely to have a heart attack. Hypertension is also a red flag in identifying patients with sleep apnea.
Diabetes is also a common health condition associated with sleep apnea. And OSA also interferes with some of the body’s hormones that regulate eating, which can lead to obesity.
OSA is more than just snoring. It is a chronic condition that can cause a myriad of health issues.
Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
It can be hard to tell if you have sleep apnea or not. The best way to determine if you have this condition is to come in for a consultation, where Dr. Henry may recommend a sleep study.
Common signs of sleep apnea and OSA risk factors include:
- Pauses or gaps while sleeping
- Neck size equal to or greater than 17 inches for men or 16 inches for women
- A BMI greater than 30
- Being overweight by 25 pounds or more
- A long, skinny neck (You do not have to be overweight to have OSA)
- Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism
- A recessed chin
- A small jaw
- A large overbite
- Smoking and alcohol use
- Being 40 years of age or older
- Suffering from TMJ
Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Sleep Studies
A sleep study is typically performed to determine if a person has sleep apnea. There are two types of sleep studies available: One is called a polysomnogram, or PSG, and is a comprehensive overnight test performed at an accredited sleep center. A second option is an overnight study you can take home, also known as a portable sleep monitor, to evaluate the quality of your sleep in the comfort of your own home.
Both types of sleep studies offer distinct advantages. To discuss which choice is best for you, please arrange a consultation with Dr. Henry.
The Benefits of a PSG
The major advantage of a PSG in an accredited sleep center is the amount of comprehensive data that is collected. This data includes monitoring:
- Brain waves to record the various stages of sleep
- Oxygen levels in the bloodstream
- Airflow from the nose and mouth
- Sleep position
- Pulse rate
Most sleep centers also try to create a private bedroom surrounding for the overnight study. In addition to obstructive sleep apnea, several other sleep disorders can be diagnosed with the additional data available from a PSG.
The Benefits of a Portable Sleep Monitor
The primary advantage of a take-home sleep study is being able to complete the test in the comfort of your bedroom. This allows the patient to stick to their normal bedtime routine.
Portable sleep monitoring at home still measures the levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, pulse rate, respiratory effort, sleeping position, and airflow when breathing. There are fewer wires and sensors attached to a portable monitor than you will find with a PSG.
What If I Am Diagnosed with OSA?
A diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea can be made from a portable home monitor or a PSG. Significant information from either type of sleep study includes how many times a person stops breathing an hour along with the associated drop of oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
Both tests will also reveal how much a person’s heart rate increases with each event and if the sleep apnea is positional, meaning it varies in severity depending on your body's position, for example sleeping on your back or side.
A person with severe sleep apnea can stop breathing more than 30 times an hour putting them at risk for serious long-term health conditions. It is incredibly important to treat your OSA to improve your health and quality of sleep.
Oral Appliances for Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
An oral appliance is a great solution for patients suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. They are also useful for patients with obstructive sleep apnea who are intolerant of using their CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices. The small, custom-fit plastic device fits over one or both dental arches like a sports mouth guard.
Types of Oral Appliances
Oral appliances usually fall into one of two categories, working either by advancing the lower jaw or by moving the tongue in a forward direction — either by suction or pressure. These are appliances that have been approved by the FDA and can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
In the case of either category of appliance, they are custom fit and comfortable to wear, ensuring that the throat is kept open during sleep and the flow of air and oxygen keeps moving. When the airway remains open, snoring is dramatically reduced, resulting in a better night’s sleep.
How Can I Get an Oral Appliance?
A trained sleep apnea dentist like Dr. Henry can easily create an oral appliance for you. The process usually involves a simple impression of your upper and lower teeth. The type of device will be discussed, and the impressions of your teeth will be sent to a laboratory for fabrication.
At your delivery appointment, your appliance will be tried in for fit and comfort, and Dr. Henry will give you instructions on its care. Additional adjustment appointments ensure that the appliance is comfortable and working effectively to address your obstructive sleep apnea. Your follow-up care may include a sleep study to demonstrate the effectiveness of the device as well.
Insurance Coverage and Additional Treatment Options
Most of the cost of oral appliance therapy is usually covered by standard PPO medical insurance. HMO medical insurances may cover oral appliances in their own network as well. If a patient has a CPAP machine that was covered by medical insurance and is unable to use it, that patient is often still eligible for an oral appliance.
Eligibility and coverage by insurance carrier are always handled on a case by case basis. For more information about insurance or alternative sleep apnea treatment options, please arrange a consultation.
Take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Test
If you snore and wonder if you have sleep apnea, take this short test called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This standard series of questions is widely used to see how your sleep affects your daily life. Then, bring in this page for your evaluation, and see how we can help you sleep more safely and feel better than ever before.
The following is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale:
In contrast to just feeling tired, how likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations? Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
0=Would never doze
1=Slight chance of dozing
2=Moderate chance of dozing
3=High chance of dozing
____Sitting and reading
____ Watching TV
____Sitting inactive in a public place (i.e., in a theater)
____ As a car passenger for an hour without a break
____ Lying down to rest in the afternoon
____ Sitting and talking to someone
____Sitting quietly after lunch (without alcohol)
____ In a car, while stopping for a few minutes in traffic
____= TOTAL SCORE
A score of eight or above may signal that you are at risk for OSA. Please call Dr. Henry for a complimentary consultation.
Read our Sleep Apnea Magazine for More Information
Spotlight on Sleep is our free magazine dedicated to obstructive sleep apnea. Spreading the word about sleep apnea is a duty that we take seriously. Everyone is likely to know someone who snores or is at risk for this deadly condition.
As someone who has sleep apnea, Dr. Henry knows the importance of diagnosing and treating this common problem. That is why we created this comprehensive magazine which provides a lot of useful information about OSA. We encourage you to read it to learn more about sleep apnea.
The magazine includes information about:
- Sleep apnea and snoring
- What to do if you are CPAP intolerant
- The link between OSA and cancer
- Famous sleep apnea deaths
- The dangers of driving after a sleepless night caused by OSA
- Untreated OSA and decreased sex drive
- OSA treatment using a comfortable, custom-made oral appliance
Please contact us if you would like to request a hard copy of the magazine or if you want to set up a consultation.
Schedule Your Consultation for Sleep Apnea Therapy in Irvine Today
Please call 714-385-1672 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Henry today. Or, you can send us an appointment request form by filling out your information in our contact page! At Orange Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, we proudly serve patients from Tustin, Orange, Santa Ana, and other areas of Orange County, California.