Here at SLO Smiles, our sleep apnea experts want you to know the facts when it comes to this dangerous disorder.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your breathing is interrupted while asleep. Those with undiagnosed sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly while asleep – which can happen hundreds of times throughout the night. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder, because it can deprive your brain and body of much needed oxygen.
Caused by a blockage of the airway, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type. In this case, soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, causing you to stop breathing. When the airway repeatedly becomes blocked, this limits the amount of air that can reach your lungs, causing many patients to snore loudly or make choking sounds as they attempt to breath. Once the brain and body become oxygen deprived – you wake up. For some this happens a few times during the night while others are affected hundreds of times in a single night.
Central Sleep Apnea on the other hand, occurs when the brain fails to listen to signals your muscles to breathe. Causes could include instability in the respiratory control center. This type of sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated will lead to high blood pressure and unsafe risk for stroke and heart failure.
Sleep apnea causes an ongoing state of fatigue that leads to real problems in day-to-day life. Whether you’re at home, work, or play – sleep apnea is dangerous (particularly while driving or operating heavy machinery). Not to mention, sleep apnea can cause medical complications for vulnerable folks who’ve recently undergone surgery.
Here in San Luis Obispo, effective treatments for sleep apnea depend on both the specific kind of apnea, and each patient’s unique case.
For example, basic treatment could be making behavioral changes like not smoking anymore, losing weight, or sleeping on your side as opposed to your back. In more serious cases, CPAP machines or surgery have proven effective, while other patients respond more positively to Oral Appliance Therapy. In our experience, Oral Appliance Therapy has a compliance rate around 90% in part because it’s easier than other treatments and comfortable to wear.
SLO Smiles’ very own Dr. Mark Leopold is a trusted dentist who treats sleep apnea. Trained using Oral Appliance Therapy, Dr. Leopold serves patients across the Central Coast; helping them to sleep safely and experience healthier lives.
It might be helpful to know that SLO Smiles can often bill your medical insurance for Oral Appliance Therapy, including Medicare.
Whether you’re currently suffering from sleep apnea or starting to experience its troubling signs in your own life, our friendly dentists at SLO Smiles are available to answer any and all of your questions. You’re invited to contact our friendly team for personalized care at (805) 541-0550.