A rumbling snore may seem comical, but sleep apnea is no laughing matter. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, if left untreated sleep apnea can lead to life-shortening consequences: cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and it can even make you more prone to car accidents on the road. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is by far the most common, affecting roughly 18 million Americans.” Dr. David Blaustein, a board certified New York Dentist says, “Even more alarming, an estimated 80 percent of people with mild to moderate OSA have yet to be diagnosed, putting them at increased risk for a slew of health ailments and accidents caused by chronic sleep deprivation.” Learn more about sleep apnea and its treatment.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an airway blockage, generally when the soft palate collapses against the throat, reducing oxygen delivery to the brain and vital organs. Most sufferers snore loudly, and are awakened hundreds of times each night as airflow is blocked. Besides buzz-saw snoring, other symptoms of OSA include lingering fatigue and daytime sleepiness, episodes of awakening out of breath at night, and waking with severe headaches and dry mouth.
Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy
Treatment options range the gamut from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to oral appliance therapy – a specialized orthodontic retainer that stops the tongue and soft tissues from collapsing. For those who cannot tolerate the bulk and inconvenience of airway pressure devices, trained dental professionals offer a more convenient alternative to CPAP.
Manhattan cosmetic dentist Dr. David Blaustein touts the benefits of oral appliance therapy, which is less invasive, more convenient and cost-effective.
“Several of my sleep apnea patients found the CPAP devices too uncomfortable to wear through the night. Their partners were also bothered by the noise, making compliance rates low,” reports Dr. Blaustein, adding that most of his patients acclimate to their dental retainers in less than two weeks.
Surgical intervention may be a last resort option for sleep apnea when other treatments have failed. Doctors may remove tissue, reposition the jaw bone or even create a new airway passage in a procedure known as a tracheostomy.
Research ties sleep apnea to stroke, sudden death
Medical experts agree that sleep apnea is a chronic condition that can be detrimental to your health. Just last year, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed that even moderate cases of sleep apnea were associated with a heightened risk of stroke, cancer and death. Nearly 400 participants were tracked by Australian researchers, who found that individuals with moderate to severe OSA were nearly four times more likely to suffer a stroke, 2.5 times more likely to develop cancer and four times more likely to die.
Sleep apnea is more prevalent in men than women, but its damaging effects are witnessed in both sexes. An earlier observational study on sleep apnea in patients over 60 found that patients whose sleep was disrupted 20 or more times a night had a two-fold increase risk of sudden cardiac death. The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Apoor S Gami led the research on this destructive sleep disorder, which is more common in people who are overweight, of African-American or Latino descent, and smokers.