Sleep Apnea Dentist Serving Greenville, Simpsonville, Taylors, Greer, Mauldin & Nearby Areas Of South Carolina
Sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders, with around 100 million people suffering from it worldwide. Obstructive sleep apnea tends to affect men more than women, and is most common in smokers and people who are significantly overweight or obese.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, call Flatrock Family Dentistry today at 864-297-5268 to schedule your consultation. Our dentists are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is generally caused by an obstruction in the airway when sleeping. While you sleep, your soft tissues can collapse into your airway, obstructing your breath and causing you to wake up multiple times in the night. Risk factors for developing obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Heavy drinking
- Having a narrow airway or thick neck
- Family history
Adults and children alike can develop sleep apnea, although it is most common in people middle aged or older. Sleep apnea can also affect both men and women, although it is more common in men.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can cause a variety of physical and mental symptoms, including:
- Daytime fatigue
- Concentration problems
- Waking up with dry mouth
Loud snoring is one of the most recognisable symptoms of sleep apnea, and is a reason why many people discover their sleep apnea through a partner. If your partner is often woken up by loud, incessant snoring, it could be a sign of sleep apnea.
Since people with sleep apnea wake up multiple times in the night, even if they don’t realize that they’re waking up, they often develop symptoms associated with lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. Fatigue, concentration issues, memory problems, irritability, and more can all be signs that you’re not getting good quality sleep and may have sleep apnea.
What Happens if You Leave Your Sleep Apnea Untreated?
It is important to manage sleep apnea. The disorder has been linked to:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
- Poor performance at work
- Strained relationships
Several studies have shown a connection between sleep apnea and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. A certain percentage of sleep apnea sufferers are also obese or overweight, which may in part explain the increased prevelance of heart and metabolic issues among this group. Losing weight is often a good option for both alleviating sleep apnea and reducing a person’s risk of developing these health problems. It’s also possible that the stress of sleep apnea contributes to these health problems.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Naturally Help My Sleep Apnea?
Lifestyle changes in combination with oral appliance therapy is often an effective means of controlling sleep apnea. You will need to work with your doctor to discuss how to address your sleep condition by natural means, or lifestyle changes.
Your doctor may recommend:
- Weight loss, if you are overweight
- Quitting all tobacco products, if you smoke or otherwise use tobacco
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
- Taking steps to reduce stress in your life
While our dentists may have some recommendations for coping with sleep apnea, we will handle the custom oral appliance portion of your treatment and advise you to consult your doctor about other aspects.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. However, many people have trouble adjusting to wearing a CPAP and end up not using it every night. CPAP machines are loud, can be uncomfortable, and are difficult to travel with, which can be dealbreakers for many people.
How Long Can It Take to Get Used to a CPAP Machine?
The mask, tubing, and air pressure of a CPAP mask takes some getting used to. In fact, 30-90 days would be considered a perfectly normal amount of time to adjust to wearing the device while you sleep. Some people never get used to it and find they can’t get a good night’s rest. A custom oral appliance from our dentists may be the right alternative for mild to moderate sleep apnea.
If you can get used to a CPAP machine and use it every night, it’s typically considered the best sleep apnea treatment. However, if you can’t get used to it or if your sleep apnea is on the mild or moderate end of the spectrum, you may benefit from an oral appliance.
Are There Any Alternatives to Treat Sleep Apnea?
The main alternative to a CPAP machine is a custom oral appliance, provided you are a good candidate for this alternative. While a CPAP blows constant air into your airway to keep it open, the oral appliance keeps the airway clear by holding the jaws and tongue in a forward position, so they don’t collapse and block your air.
An oral appliance fits over your teeth, similar to the way an Invisalign aligner or a nighttime teeth grinding guard fits over your teeth. They are relatively comfortable to wear and easy to take with you when you travel.
Does a Sleep Test Need to be Performed in Order to Get Treatment for Sleep Apnea?
You will most likely need some type of sleep test to confirm your doctor’s diagnosis of sleep apnea. The typical patient experience is to receive a prescription for CPAP or an oral appliance. The prescription comes from their doctor after they have received an exam. As part of this process, your doctor may order a sleep test to confirm the diagnosis. There are several types of tests, some of which can be completed at home. Patients visit our dentists to discuss oral appliance therapy after their diagnosis.
Oral appliances have a number of benefits over a CPAP machine, including:
- Easy to wear
- Easy to travel with
- Doesn’t disturb your partner
- Much smaller than a CPAP machine
We can fit you with a custom oral appliance for sleep apnea that is as comfortable and effective as possible.
Schedule Your Sleep Apnea Consultation
If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, call Flatrock Family Dentistry today at 864-297-5268 to schedule your consultation today.