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Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night's sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from "mixed" or "complex" sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.
What are risk factors for sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females, and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors. It is also more common in males.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.
What should I do if I suspect that someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?
Contact our practice, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you.
While snoring is a common problem for many people, it can also be a sign of other major health complications. It is estimated that more than 80 million people in North America snore while sleeping, which not only affects the quality of sleep of the person snoring, but also the quality of sleep of their loved ones and other family members. Luckily, there is a way to treat chronic snoring.
What causes snoring?
Snoring can be the result of several factors. Typically, snoring is caused by the relaxing of the muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth, making the air passage smaller. The decrease in space through the airway makes it harder for each breath to get through, and when it does get through, it moves over the soft tissues in the mouth and throat and causes a vibration that results in the snoring sound. Other causes of snoring may include:
- Excess body weight
- Alcohol consumption
- Certain sleep aides or sedatives
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
What is a Mandibular Advancement Device?
If you snore at night, then a mandibular advancement device (MAD) may represent a solution and a better night's sleep! The MAD is a specially designed dental device that gently helps keep the lower jaw, or mandible, in a forward position, increasing the space between the airway passage and helping you breathe better so you can get a full, quiet night's sleep.
Some devices also stop the tongue from falling back over your windpipe. Your dentist will fit these special appliances to meet your individual condition.
Is a MAD comfortable?
The answer is simple — YES! A mandibular advancement device is made to be comfortable, so that you can sleep without even noticing you're wearing it. It does not prevent you from breathing with your mouth open and will even eliminate snoring for patients with sinus congestion or allergies. You may experience some slight stiffness of the jaw for the first few mornings after wearing the device, but this feeling is only temporary, and will go away after you wake up and remove the device.
To learn more about a mandibular advancement device, contact our practice and schedule an appointment and consultation.
I cannot say enough about how comfortable I am made to feel during every appointment. Dr. Watkins is a kind and gentle dentist and I recommend him to everyone, but most of all, I recommend him to those who have ever had a bad experience at a dentist.~ Terre S. Read More
I have been going to Dr. Watkins for many years. After I moved from Bloomington (to over 50 miles away), Dr. Watkins is the only doctor that I keep coming back to Bloomington to see. I trust him completely. He and his staff are so caring, that I no longer dread going to the dentist as I did when I was a child.~ Terre S. Read More
When I first moved to Bloomington, one of my first tasks was finding a new family dentist. One of the reasons I picked Dr. Watkins' office was because his advertisement on the back of my church bulletin said 'Relax, we cater to cowards!' Since I had some painful memories of dental procedures as a child, this slogan gave me hope.~ Vallia Read More
I have been going to this office for probably 25 years or more and I have NEVER been mistreated or disappointed in any way. Even as a child I can remember how careful and caring they all were and continue to be to this day. I have recommended many people to them throughout the years and like me, I have yet to have anyone who was/is disappointed with their service.~ Rex V. Read More
The technology is strictly state-of-the-art. The receptionists are extremely friendly, accommodating, flexible, The doctors are understanding. extremely kind, reassuring, gentle, encouraging, and technically superior.~ Robert R. Read More
Drs. Watkins and their staff provide excellent customer service and exceptional dental care, The entire office is very well organized every step of the way… from scheduling your appointment through each step of your visit and with follow up, my family has been patients of Dr. Watkins for 15+ years!~ Ann Read More
The staff at Dr. Watkins' office always treats me with prompt, friendly, and courteous service! It's as if I were lifelong friends, or yet: family! I have come to expect superior professional service, and with each visit, from cleaning to crowns, the complete staff continues to help me at feel at ease.~ Louella S. Read More
I have been coming to Dr. Watkins since I was little and I'm now in my 30s. There is no one else that I would trust to take care of my smile. My daughter also loves to come here! Drs. Watkins and the office staff are awesome!~ Cami Read More
I work in a medical office as well, and understand the daily grind of repeatedly doing the same thing and seeing the same appointment types... I know that my daughter's appointment was not the only one that day, but the staff made us both feel comfortable, heard, special, and not rushed. I appreciate that!~ Piper R. Read More
They are extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to take the time to explain the what and why of their treatment. This is simply an amazing group of people who are the best at what they do.~ Rex V. Read More
My family have been patients of Dr. Watkins for 15+ years. We have always had very positive and caring experiences with Dr. Watkins and his staff.~ Ann Read More
Dr. Watkins and the office staff are awesome! They treat me like I'm just part of their family. Make your appointment with him today! You won't be sorry!~ Cami Read More
From the minute I walked into his office the very first time, I felt that I would be well cared for, and I have been, every time. Whether it was another crown, a simple filling, or a routine cleaning, my comfort and care has always been their top priority~ Vallia Read More
Dr. Watkins is an excellent dentist with an excellent staff. You never have to wait long, you are always met with competent, very friendly receptionists, and the hygienists and Dr. Watkins themselves are very up to date and explain things very well. The office is also exceptionally clean. Wish I could give more than 5 stars!~ Amy Read More
The medical assistants are top of the line, gentle, reassuring, and knowledgeable. Dr. Watkins is at the top of his game—extremely kind, reassuring, gentle, encouraging, and technically superior.~ Robert R. Read More
I am thrilled to be a patient in this practice and would recommend them to everyone... enthusiastically, and without hesitation!~ Robert R. Read More