You may not think of a sleeping disorder as something that would involve your dentist. But it certainly can. One of the most diagnosed conditions we see today is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
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 feel like 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.
And we all know how prevalent snoring is. Snoring doesn’t necessarily mean you have OSA (that’s diagnosed via a sleep study), but it may be an indicator. OSA can be very dangerous to your health because depending on its severity, as it lowers the oxygen saturation in your body in addition to interrupting your sleep.
To give you an idea of the size of the problem, let’s look at a few statistics.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
• More than 40% of adults over 40 snore
• 87 million Americans snore
• 45 million snore every night
• 9% of men and 4% of women have OSA
• 4% of men have OSA symptoms
• 2% of women have OSA symptoms
Prevalence of OSA in the USA
• OSA – 20 million
• Compare with:
• Asthma – 10 M
• Diabetes – 16 M
• More common in males than females
• Progressively worsens with age
• Progressively worsens with increasing weight
Then there are the risk factors that may heighten the risk of developing OSA:
Medical Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
• Increasing Age
• Male Gender
• Anatomic Abnormalities of Upper Airway
• Family History
• Alcohol or Sedative Usage
As you age, your chances of developing OSA increase if one or more of these risk factors are present.
The symptoms of OSA are pretty well defined:
• Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)
• Non-restorative sleep
• Poor memory, clouded intellect
• Poor concentration and performance
• Morning headache
• Decreased sex drive, impotence
• Depression, irritability
• Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD)
• Personality changes
• Snoring: intermittent with pauses
• Snorting, gasping
• Awakening with gasping or choking
• Apnea, pauses in breathing
• Frequent awakening
• Fragmented awakening
• Fragmented, non-refreshing, light sleep
• Thrashing in bed
The last symptom, bruxism or teeth grinding, is something we can help you with immediately by fitting you with a night guard. And we have devices that can help you stop snoring. However, if your are experiencing many of these symptoms we would recommend you consult your doctor and possibly undergo a sleep study to ensure you don’t have sleep apnea.
We’ll review some of the remedies and treatments for OSA in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us.