Sleep Apnea & Snoring
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder which occurs due to the narrowing or total closure of the airway. Sleep apnea involves repeated breathing interruptions during sleep, which can occur hundreds of times each night. During normal breathing, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures in the back of the throat. When a person is awake, the muscles hold this airway open.
Sleep apnea occurs when a person is asleep and the upper airway and airflow are blocked. This causes oxygen levels to drop in both the brain and the blood, resulting in shallow breathing or breathing pauses during sleep.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Certain factors can put people at risk for developing sleep apnea including:
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Cardiovascular problems
- Family history
- Nasal congestion
- Throat and tongue muscles that are more relaxed than normal
What are the symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
There are several indications that a person may have sleep apnea. Some may be noticed by the affected person, some may be reported by another. If you have sleep apnea, you may notice symptoms such as:
- Persistent fatigue regardless of how much you sleep at night
- Frequently waking up with a headache
- Waking up with a dry mouth or throat
- Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night, restless sleep
- Feelings of irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering details
If you have sleep apnea, a partner or roommate may tell you that you snore very loudly and that there are times while you are asleep that your snoring stops for short periods. Someone who sleeps in close proximity to you may also say that you make choking or gasping sounds when you sleep.
Types of Sleep Apnea
The main types of sleep apnea include:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This type of sleep apnea results from muscle relaxation during sleep. The muscles at the back of the throat support the tongue, the walls of the throat, the tonsils, the uvula, and the soft palate on the roof of the mouth. When the body sleeps, these muscles relax around the airway.
In obstructive sleep apnea, the weight of these muscles closes the airway completely. The resulting oxygen deprivation stimulates the brain to release chemicals including adrenaline to rouse sleep enough to restore breathing. Full alertness may not occur, which is why many people with sleep apnea are unaware of their condition.
Central Sleep Apnea
This type of sleep apnea results from a miscommunication between the brain and the respiratory system. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain temporarily forgets to send signals to activate the breathing muscles, and no effort is made to breathe. The use of certain drugs, such as opioids, is one reason why the brain may fail to send respiratory signals. Age is another risk factor.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea is a condition in which a person has both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
How do you diagnose Sleep Apnea?
After Dr. DeStefano performs a thorough consultation, he may require patients to undergo sleep tests. The symptoms of sleep apnea are relatively telling, so a comprehensive patient history may be sufficient for identifying the existence of sleep apnea. Where a sleep test may be relevant is in determining the frequency of apnea episodes. This includes how many times breathing stops in a given night and for how long. Sleep tests conducted at home monitor breathing patterns, airflow, blood oxygen level, and heart rate. Professional sleep tests may also be conducted in a sleep study center. This type of screening is referred to as nocturnal polysomnography and involves measurements similar to a home sleep test as well as brain, lung, and heart activity.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
While a CPAP machine can be a fix for some patients, it isn’t a stand-alone solution. Using our state of the art technology, Dr. DeStefano is able to fabricate a custom oral sleep appliance to solve some, or all, of these issues over time. Dr. DeStefano can measure and record your muscles in their proper relaxed jaw position. Then, he is able to measure you for the MircrO2 appliance.
Am I a candidate for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
If you display symptoms of sleep apnea, you may be a good candidate for treatment. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that requires a thorough evaluation and proper treatment to avoid lasting health complications.
The sleep apnea treatment we offer at DeStefano Dentistry, the MicrO2 Appliance, is appropriate for people who have tried CPAP therapy and cannot tolerate the side effects of forced air or the nasal mask. Appliance therapy is also an optimal front-line treatment for obstructive sleep apnea as an alternative to a CPAP machine.
What is the MicrO2 Appliance?
The MircrO2 appliance is a non-invasive and comfortable solution to sleep apnea. Unlike a CPAP machine, MircrO2 isn’t constrictive, does not have cords, masks or loud noises. However, MircrO2 is not your typical mouth guard. It is a custom fabricated adjustable, professional device. The appliance keeps your jaw forward in its proper position while you sleep, allowing your airway to remain open.
After wearing the sleep appliance for a few weeks, Dr. DeStefano will send you home with our in-office take-home sleep study. This study will measure your apneas, pulse, oxygen levels, and snoring episodes. Then, Dr. DeStefano can analyze this information and make adjustments to your appliance as needed to help you reach optimal results.
MicrO2 Appliance Benefits
MircrO2 offers patients many benefits including:
- Better airway protection
- Easy to use
- Custom Made
- Mask/Hose Free
“The Mirco II oral appliance is a great alternative to using a CPAP machine. Very comfortable to use at night and much easier to use while traveling. Dr DeStefano and Emily provide excellent service and support throughout the entire fitting process. I would highly recommend exploring this product to see if it is right for you!!” Thomas Q.
Risk Factors of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea affects the quality of life and general health by repeatedly diminishing the restfulness sleep should bring. People with untreated sleep apnea have a higher risk for:
- Chronic fatigue which increases the risk of accidents. People with sleep apnea may fall asleep at their desk or at stoplights or even while driving. This is called “microsleep.” Even if these episodes do not occur, cognitive function declines significantly without sufficient sleep and thereby increases the risk of falls and other accidents.
- Children with sleep apnea may struggle academically and/or socially. Sleep apnea may lead to behaviors that are misdiagnosed as ADHD or other behavioral problems.
- High blood pressure and heart disease. When blood oxygen levels decline sharply during an apneic episode, the cardiovascular system strains to pump more blood through the body. This can result in hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and heart attack.
- Metabolic syndrome, which encompasses irregular blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, each of which relates to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Surgery or medication complications related to sedatives and general anesthesia.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can scar the liver and degrade function.
Schedule a Consultation
Are you sick of snoring? Sick of your CPAP machine? Recently diagnosed with sleep apnea? Contact us today at DeStefano Dentistry by calling (585) 248-2383 to schedule your sleep apnea appliance consultation.