Sleep Apnea

The amount of caffeine that can be safely ingested by adults on a daily basis is 400mg. This is equal to 4 average cups of coffee or 10 cups of cola. While this amount may be deemed “safe”, it does not come without its side effects: migraines, insomnia, jitteriness, nervousness, and increased heart rates. Many people find themselves relying on this extra jolt throughout the day due to fatigue and tiredness, a result of not enough sleep. Studies show that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, however, the reality is that the majority of Americans get much less than this.

Studies show that up to 10% of the population suffers from snorting and other sleep related disorders. This means that a person with severe sleep apnea stops breathing a minimum of 30 times every hour, and this number only accounts for when he or she is not breathing for 10 seconds. It does not include the times they have stopped for less than this amount of time. The effect of oxygen depletion in the body while it is supposed to be resting has a severe adverse effect on our longterm health. Patients are at increased risk for heart disease, Atrial Fibrillation, as well as worsening other disorders like Diabetes.

As practitioners, we screen for many of these disorders. Oral signs of a patient with a sleep disorder can be acid erosion due to G.E.R.D. and/or severe Bruxism, or grinding. The anatomy of the mouth can also play a role, opening the door for a conversation regarding sleep habits and it effect on the patient or their spouse. Many people who snore are unaware of how bad it actually is, but their significant other most certainly is. This means that both adults in the household are now sleep deprived and suffering the consequences.

Technology now offers ways for your dentist and primary doctor to order at-home sleep test, giving an approved diagnosis from certified sleep physicians. A determination is made as to what the appropriate course of treatment is, with the gold standard being the use of a CPAP. Unfortunately, not everyone who has a CPAP uses it, which means that they are not getting the help they need. The market is flooded with “snore appliances”, however these can do more harm than good. Often times they result in shifting teeth and TMJ pain. They also may lessen snoring, but do not help with actually getting proper levels of oxygen into the body, resulting in a situation where the patient is still suffering, only they are doing it in silence. For those who are not compliant with CPAP usage, oral appliances made by dental practitioners to open the airway in a comfortable position have been shown to bring the number of Apnic events to levels virtually matching those with a CPAP.

The more we learn about these disorders, the more it becomes necessary to screen and treat them. A good nights rest is vital to the demands of daily life, and it’s important for our long term health. A good nights sleep will change no only your life, but likely the lives of those in your household, so it is important to have a conversation about snoring.

Originally published in Wykoff Living.

Expert Contributor to Wyckoff Living