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Posts for tag: snoring and sleep apnea

By Drake Tollefson DDS
February 16, 2012
Category: Oral Health
IfYouSnorePleaseReadMore

Do you constantly feel like you are running on empty? Do you snore, feel like napping every day, or even drink multiple cups of coffee just for the caffeine boost? You may have a sleep related breathing disorder (SRBD) or Sleep Apnea (“a” – without; “pnea” – breath) in which your airways become obstructed causing chronic loud snoring. The good news is that we can help both diagnose and treat this disorder, which means you will be able to finally get the rest that you (and your sleeping partner) so desperately need.

The reason that sleep apnea is so disruptive to daily living is that it causes awakening for a few seconds up to 50 times per night, significantly decreasing the amount of deep sleep that is necessary for full rejuvenation. Airway blockage during sleep commonly results from obesity, an enlarged tongue or tonsils, and other factors that can cause your airway to close off when you lie down, all increasing the likelihood that you will suffer from sleep apnea. These conditions are dangerous and impair the brain and heart from receiving adequate oxygen, increasing your risk for both stroke and heart attack.

The study of sleep and its disorders is relatively new. One successful way to treat sleep apnea is with a “CPAP” machine which uses a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure mask overnight to keep air passages open while sleeping. Another more comfortable, less noisy, and unobtrusive method is to use Oral Appliance Therapy, which features an appliance like a retainer that can be custom fitted to your mouth made by a dentist trained in sleep medicine.

And yes, dentists are increasingly being recruited to help study and treat sleep disorders. There are actually several ways in which we can help. Because we see our patients on a regular basis, we are uniquely qualified to diagnose early signs of SRBDs. For example, if you start to snore almost immediately after falling asleep in the dental chair, we will be able to discuss this important warning sign with you. We can also examine the back of your mouth to see if you possess any of the traits that point to SRBDs, including large tonsils and/or an elongated uvula — the tissue in the back of your throat that looks like a little punching bag.

So, if you want to stop snoring and start sleeping well or you think you may have a SRBD, call our office to schedule a basic oral exam and consultation. If you would like to learn more about the link between dentistry and the treatment of sleep disorders, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
January 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
YourDentistMayBeAbleToHelpYouStopSnoring

Dentistry has ventured into the new area of sleep medicine by helping snorers — and their exasperated sleeping partners — with custom-made anti-snoring devices. These oral appliances, which resemble orthodontic retainers or sports mouthguards, keep the snorer's airway clear and the bedroom quiet. To see how they work, you have to understand the mechanics of snoring.

Snoring occurs when the upper airway (back of the throat) becomes blocked by the tongue or other soft-tissue structures, such as large tonsils or a long soft palate. The vibrating of these obstacles creates the sound we call snoring.

Snoring is often worse when sleeping on one's back because that position encourages the lower jaw to fall back and the tongue to close off the airway. This is where Oral Appliance Therapy comes in. These custom-fitted devices are designed to keep the upper airway open during sleep by pulling the lower jaw forward, which in turn brings the tongue away from the throat. Dentists, and our office in particular, are the only source for Oral Appliance Therapy.

People who snore should have a thorough examination to rule out Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a potentially dangerous condition in which airflow can be cut off completely for 10 or more seconds (“a” – without; “pnea” – breath), reducing blood-oxygen levels. Chronic, loud snoring is a common finding with OSA.

Please remember that sleep is an integral part of health and well-being. In fact, we spend about a third of our lives doing it. If you are snoring or have any sleep-related breathing disorders that are waking you or your bed partner, be sure to tell our office. There are plenty of examples of the havoc wreaked by sleep-deprived individuals. Remember the Exxon Valdez?

If you have any questions about Oral Appliance Therapy, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

To learn more about the topic of oral appliance therapy, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
September 25, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Nightly snoring can be a sign of a dangerous condition called sleep apnea (from “a” meaning without and “pnea” meaning breath). When someone snores the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse onto themselves and obstruct the airway, causing the vibration known as snoring.

If the obstruction becomes serious, it is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. In such cases the flow of air may be stopped for brief periods, causing the person to wake for a second or two with a loud gasp as he attempts to catch his breath. This can cause heart and blood pressure problems, related to low oxygen levels in the blood. The obstruction and mini-awakening cycle can occur as many as 50 times an hour. A person with this condition awakens tired and faces the risk of accidents at work or while driving due to fatigue.

Studies show that sleep apnea patients are much more likely to suffer from heart attack, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes.

What can be done to treat OSA?
Snoring, apnea, and OSA occur more frequently in people who are overweight. So start with losing weight and exercising.

At our office, we can design oral appliances to wear while sleeping that will keep your airway open while you sleep. These appliances, which look like sports mouth guards, work by repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (soft tissues in the back of the throat); stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue; and increasing the muscle tone of the tongue.

Another approach is to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) bedside machine. These machines send pressurized air through a tube connected to a mask covering the nose and sometimes the mouth. The pressurized air opens the airway so that breathing is not interrupted.

Much less frequently, jaw surgeries may be recommended to remove excess tissues in the throat. These would be done by specially trained oral surgeons or ear, nose and throat specialists.

Diagnosis and treatment of OSA is best accomplished by joint consultation with your physician and our office. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss snoring and OSA. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Snoring and Sleep Apnea.”

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when the upper airway (back of your throat) collapses or is blocked, causing significant airflow disruption. A person with OSA continues snoring at a regular rate but is interrupted by long silent periods during which there is no breathing for atleast 10 seconds or more. Believe it or not, this issue affects millions of people worldwide. It can leave you feeling tired, depressed, irritable, as well as cause memory loss and poor concentration. And if you have OSA that is left undiagnosed and untreated you could fall victim to heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart disease and even impotence. For these reasons, we feel it is important that you understand the real-world consequences that can occur if you ignore your OSA.

Reality is that most people are unaware that their dentist can be an excellent resource in helping to diagnose and treat OSA. However the first and most important step is to receive a proper, thorough examination and diagnosis with an appropriately trained physician and dentist. If after completing this process you are diagnosed with OSA, we will discuss treatment options. Some of these may include:

  • Suggesting that you exercise and lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Sleeping with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that provides pressurized air into your airways through a mask that covers both your nose and mouth while sleeping.
  • Sleeping with a professionally made oral appliance or mouthguard that can reposition your lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (the dangling tissue in the top, back portion of your mouth) into a better position during sleep to relieve blockage.

If you are ready to discuss you questions and concerns about your snoring, or the snoring habits of another family member, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options when you read “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.”