What would you do if someone tried to choke you in your sleep?
Your body’s fight or flight response would kick in, causing adrenaline to be pumped into your body, putting it on high alert.
Now imagine if it was your own body causing that reaction.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing in your sleep. If you’re not breathing, you’re not getting oxygen. Without oxygen, you can experience serious, irreversible damage within four minutes.
When you stop breathing regularly, your body’s flight or fight response is triggered multiple times throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea decreases blood flow to your brain, which can increase your risk of having a stroke.
Patients in their 50s should be extra observant of their sleeping habits. If you think that you might have sleep apnea symptoms, schedule an appointment with your physician. This is the time when your risk of high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, and diabetes increases.
How Can A Dentist Help With Sleep Apnea?
No matter the age, most people shy away from sleep apnea treatment because they don’t want to sleep with a mask strapped to their face while hooked up to a machine. For a long time, that was the only way to treat sleep apnea. Now there are alternatives.
If your dentist is trained in sleep dentistry, they can be a great resource for alternative ways to manage your sleeping habits. While they can’t diagnose sleep apnea, they can and should screen for it. This can lead to you getting an official diagnosis from your physician.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your dentist can create a device that holds your jaw forward. By doing so, the tongue follows and the airway opens up, allowing oxygen to enter. These devices work so well, they can sometimes replace CPAP machines.
It is important to make sure the device is helping, so your dentist will recommend a follow-up to test the results. Once the results look good, the information is sent to a sleep physician and then another (hopefully final) sleep study is performed.
It may be tempting to rely on over-the-counter or online anti-apnea products, but you would be gambling with your health. By taking the time to be proactive when it comes to your health and relying on the advice of medical professionals, you’ll see better results.
If you want advice from a dentist who is specially trained in sleep dentistry, you’re in the right spot. Dr. Andrea Stevens is ready to answer all of your questions and get you sleeping peacefully.