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Get a Better Night's Rest

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Do you consistently feel tired during the day despite getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night? Have you recently experienced problems remembering things or focusing on tasks? Are you so exhausted that you have almost fallen asleep behind the wheel? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you could be one of the more than 30 million Americans that is currently suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is actually the second most common sleep disorder in the world, and it’s estimated that about 80% of the people who have it are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

If you just can’t seem to get enough sleep, sleep apnea could be the culprit, and at Central Connecticut Orofacial Pain & Sleep Medicine, Dr. Keith Hollinger and our team are ready to help you finally get the rest you deserve.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition wherein a person temporarily stops breathing for short periods of time during sleep. There are a few different types of sleep apnea. The most common type is known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. It is caused by the soft tissues in the mouth and throat relaxing into the airway and blocking it.

When breathing is completely cut off, the body immediately goes into panic mode and partially wakes up in order to resume breathing. This prevents a person from getting the deep, restful sleep they need to feel awake and refreshed during the day.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

On a long-term basis, sleep apnea can contribute to dangerous health conditions, like hypertension and excessive weight gain. On a daily basis, it may come with the following symptoms:

Loud, Frequent Snoring

As air flows in and out of a restricted airway, it brushes past loose tissues in the throat, causing loud vibrations. This is one of the primary signs of OSA.

Waking with a Sore or Dry Throat

Mouth breathing commonly accompanies sleep apnea. Spending hours with your mouth open can irritate your throat and cause your mouth to dry out.

Morning Headaches

Restricted airflow can deprive your brain of the oxygen it needs to function and feel its best.

Waking Choking or Gasping for Air

Your body may wake you up in this unpleasant manner when sleep apnea is cutting off your air supply.

Chronic Fatigue

The average adult needs 7 – 9 hours of each sleep for optimum health and alertness. Sleep apnea makes it impossible to get that amount of rest, and its victims may find that they are exhausted on a daily basis.

Emotional Difficulties

Research has linked chronic sleep deprivation with a number of emotional challenges, including irritability and depression.

Difficulty Concentrating and Cognitive Problems

Without enough sleep, you may find that even simple tasks are difficult to concentrate on. Your work productivity is likely to suffer.

Memory Loss

Sleep deprivation damages the neurons in the brain, including the ones that are responsible for memory retention.

Treating Sleep Apnea

As we touched on above, the overwhelming majority of people with sleep apnea aren’t actually treating the disorder, but that’s exactly what we do here at Central Connecticut Orofacial Pain & Sleep Medicine. The key to helping an apnea patient is keeping their airway open during the night so they can sleep soundly and get the quality of sleep that everyone needs.

How do we accomplish this? By simply having a patient wear a small, custom-made mouthpiece to bed each night. This approach is called oral appliance therapy, and it works by slightly shifting the jaw in order to prevent the airway from becoming closed off. This allows a patient to sleep without interruption, enabling them to complete a healthy sleep cycle so they can wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Obstructive sleep apnea can afflict virtually anyone. However, some groups are more likely to suffer from it than others. For example, obesity can lead to obstructed breathing at night because excess weight around the neck can put pressure on the airway. Additionally, older individuals, men, and people with chronic nasal congestion are at a heightened risk of developing sleep apnea. Certain lifestyle habits, including smoking and alcohol consumption, can also increase a person’s risk of developing OSA.

Learn More Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Sleep Apnea FAQs

Are you ready to learn even more about sleep apnea and the treatment we provide for it? Below, you will find a brief list of questions (and their answers) that our patients frequently ask about this condition and our services. If you do not find the information you were hoping for, you are welcome to contact us directly so we can personally address your inquiries.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

The best way to diagnose sleep apnea is via a sleep study, also called a sleep test. The test usually takes place in a laboratory, where you spend a night hooked up to machines that monitor your breathing, heart rate, and other vital signs. After an expert evaluates the test’s results, you will know whether you have sleep apnea and how severe your condition is.

If you have not yet been diagnosed with sleep apnea, our team can help you arrange to take a sleep test.

Who Is Most at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Anyone can suffer from sleep apnea. It affects children, adults, athletes, sedentary individuals, men, and women. However, there are some groups who are more at risk than others. For example, overweight and obese individuals, particularly those with a large neck circumference, commonly have sleep apnea. The condition also tends to be more prevalent in older individuals, people who smoke, and people who suffer from chronic nasal congestion.

What Are the Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy?

A CPAP machine is the most commonly prescribed method for treating sleep apnea. However, many patients find that the machine is uncomfortable or noisy. It is also inconvenient to travel with. They prefer oral appliance therapy because the appliance is small, portable, comfortable, and totally silent. It is also highly effective. In fact, you can expect to sleep better the first night you wear it. As you get into the habit of using it, you may notice that you are more alert, your mood is better, and you are more productive at work.

Can Lifestyle Changes Help to Address Sleep Apnea?

For many people, lifestyle changes can do much to lessen the severity of sleep apnea. For example, losing some weight or sleeping on your side instead of on your back may help you breathe easier. Not drinking alcohol in the last few hours before bedtime may also help.

Keep in mind, however, that in many cases, lifestyle changes cannot totally eliminate sleep apnea. If you suffer from this condition, your best course of action is to seek help from a qualified sleep doctor, such as Dr. Hollinger.

Does My Dental Insurance Cover Oral Appliance Therapy?

Because oral appliance therapy is used to treat a medical condition, dental insurance does not usually cover it. However, many medical insurance plans provide coverage for oral appliance therapy. Our team will help you to determine how your policy applies to your treatment and file your claims for you.

Come See Us

Are you ready to get the rejuvenating rest you deserve? We can provide proven sleep apnea therapy to help you. Beginning with the first night you wear your oral appliance, your health and your quality of life will begin to improve, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy your days without exhaustion weighing you down.

To schedule a sleep consultation, contact us today.