Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea. The good news for patients in the Scottsdale, AZ area is that Dr. Marshall Clayton of Pinnacle Peak Dentistry is here to help! As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Clayton has the experience and training to provide comfortable, painless treatment for sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night's sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three categories of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common. With CSA, breathing stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain.
- Some people suffer from "mixed" or "complex" sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females, and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral: for instance, Dr. Clayton may recommend that patients lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices created at our Scottsdale, AZ office can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.
If you suspect that someone in your family suffers from sleep apnea, contact Pinnacle Peak Dentistry, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you.