Sleep Services

Thousands of people have a common sleep disorder called sleep apnea. While you sleep at night, apneic events occur, and these events cause your breathing to be interrupted for seconds or even minutes at a time. These pauses in breathing result in a lack of oxygen to your brain, which can cause short- and long-term health complications. Here at Willow Dental Care Langley, Dr. Stephens can help educate you on how sleep apnea may be affecting you, and support you in finding a solution that best fits your lifestyle.

Keep reading to learn more about what is sleep apnea, the health problems related to sleep apnea, the symptoms of sleep apnea, and more.

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What Is Sleep Apnea?

The most common type of Sleep Apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, where your upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked, forcing your surrounding chest and diaphragm muscles to work harder to get air into your lungs. Your airway becomes constricted because the soft tissues and muscles at the back of your throat get too relaxed and collapse, blocking your airway.

There are some behavioral measures you can implement to help, such as going through some relaxing pre-sleep routines, losing weight, avoiding large meals and alcohol before bed, and trying positional therapy.

Health Problems Related to Sleep Apnea

It’s no surprise that a lack of oxygen to your brain during sleeping hours can cause a host of problems. Research shows that sleep apnea can cause acute and chronic health conditions, as well as shorten your lifespan by 20% to 50%. Some of the most common health conditions caused by sleep apnea are:

  • Heart attack
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • GERD
  • Memory problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Depression
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Bruxism (grinding teeth)

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

While sometimes it’s the patient who notices their own symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s often the patient’s partner who first notices the signs. This is because it’s difficult to monitor your own sleep or notice your own sleeping habits since you are asleep. Whether you sleep alone or with someone by your side, take a moment to consider whether any of these symptoms seem familiar:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Chronic loud snoring
  • Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Choking or gasping for air during sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Moments of not breathing while sleeping
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches upon waking
  • Waking unrefreshed and tired

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Bruxism and Sleep Apnea

Excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw is called bruxism. Nearly one in four people with sleep apnea also have bruxism. Although bruxism is a common issue, it can cause a range of mild to severe symptoms. Eventually, the symptoms grow into more serious concerns, such as aching jaw muscles, hypersensitive teeth, wearing of teeth, headaches, and even damage or breakage of natural teeth or dental restorations.

Sleep Apnea in Children

Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from sleep apnea; pediatric sleep apnea can affect up to 10% of children. While many children will eventually outgrow their sleep apnea, early diagnosis and treatment will help prevent acute and chronic complications. Unlike the daytime sleepiness adults experience, children often exhibit behavioral problems. While the underlying adult cause is often obesity, children usually have enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Children may not be as prone to loud snoring, but their sleep is still being disturbed.

Discuss the possibility of pediatric sleep apnea with your dentist if you see these signs:

  • Snoring, coughing, choking, or gasping while sleeping
  • Hyperactivity
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Restless sleep
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Mouth breathing
  • Bed-wetting
  • Learning problems
  • Sleep terrors
  • Perform poorly in school

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral Appliance Therapy is the use of an oral appliance to comfortably holds the lower-jaw forward. With the OAT, your lower jaw and base of your tongue are advanced, creating an ideal lower-jaw position. This ideal position prevents your airway from collapsing and blocking your ability to breathe properly.  Wearing an oral appliance at night reduces snoring and sleep apnea which provides good oxygen saturation.

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Reasons To Choose Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral Appliance Therapy as an alternative to the use of a CPAP machine can be just as effective, have a higher rate of compliance, and is often preferred by patients due to comfort and convenience. A custom-fit oral appliance is very comfortable to wear and simple to use. It is made of acrylic and fits over your lower and upper teeth, similar to a retainer or mouthguard.

We are one of the few offices in BC that provide our patients with individualized testing to ensure oral appliance therapy is the right choice for them. We have a polysomnographic test, the MATRx Plus by Zephyr Sleep Technologies, which uses a temporary oral appliance and can accurately predict whether sleep apnea will be eliminated in a patient. If the patient responds well to the test, then a custom-fit oral appliance is made for the patient.

Here at Willow Dental Care Langley, we offer sleep apnea treatment as a service to you and your children. Please schedule a consult with us to discuss your symptoms and concerns. Our knowledgeable staff will help determine whether you have sleep apnea and if oral appliance therapy is right for you.

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