Many patients assume that chronic snoring is nothing more than a bad habit, but the truth is that it might be a symptom of a much bigger problem. If you constantly struggle with morning headaches and daytime exhaustion in addition to keeping your family up at night with these familiar loud noises, Dr. Scott Parker strongly recommends that you visit your general physician or a sleep specialist who can help determine whether or not you’re experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact our Calimesa office to schedule an appointment. Many patients don’t realize that a dentist can help treat their condition, but it’s true! With a customized oral appliance, you can regain the quantity and quality of rest you need to lead a healthy, happy life.
Sleep apnea occurs when patients cease to breathe for ten or more seconds at a time during sleep. While patients without sleep apnea can experience a few apnea events during a night’s sleep, those with sleep apnea may experience 100s or 1000s of apnea events. There are two main forms of sleep apnea, central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is rare and requires advanced medical intervention from physicians, neurologists, and in some cases, surgeons. The more common type of this condition, obstructive sleep apnea, is characterized by a partial or full blockage of the patient’s airway that occurs during sleep. The lack of oxygen intake forces the brain to send out an emergency signal that wakes the patient, so they can readjust. While these awakenings may only last seconds, they can happen countless times, keeping patients from achieving the uninterrupted sleep they need to function properly the next day. Untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to higher blood pressure, a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, and higher chances of being involved in a car accident due to exhaustion and impeded mental function that occurs due to lack of sleep. In most cases, we are unable to help those patients who suffer from central sleep apnea, but for patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, we are happy to offer more advanced treatments.
The only way you can know for certain that you’re suffering from sleep apnea is to undergo a professional sleep study. These tests use electrodes attached to specific positions to record instances of apnea and create reports that will be used by our team and/or a sleep doctor to diagnose central or obstructive sleep apnea. Before we recommend a sleep study, we will want to know if you are at risk for sleep apnea and/or experiencing the symptoms of this disease. High risk patients include males, those with a BMI of 35 kg/m2, patients over the age of 50, those with high blood pressure, and anyone with a neck circumference greater than 17 inches. We also ask that patients let us know if they have any of the following symptoms:
Dentists are healthcare professionals who have advanced training and expertise in the interaction of oral and facial structures – including the airway. In order to help patients keep their airway clear in order to sleep soundly and breathe deeply through the night, we can offer customized oral appliances.
Traditional methods of treating sleep apnea involve a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is bulky, uncomfortable, and very difficult to travel with. As an alternative, Dr. Parker can design a custom oral appliance (often known as a “snoreguard”) that helps to comfortably reposition the patient’s jaw as they sleep, effectively preventing airway blockage. Our team wants patients from Yucaipa and surrounding areas to wake up every morning feeling refreshed and ready to smile!