Your body is designed to repair and revitalize during sleep. Your mind calms into a deep state of relaxation and your blood pressure drops. This allows your body to release hormones vital to cellular rejuvenation. Sleep aids in detoxification and boosts your immune system. You awake feeling refreshed and focused – ready to take on the world.
However, the World Health Organization estimates that 23 million working adults in America suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA (about 12 million of those cases are severe). Although most sleep apnics are men over the age of 35, anyone can have this condition – women and children, too. This dangerous sleep disorder robs the sufferers and their housemates of quality sleep. The negative impact on their health includes depression, mood swings, impaired concentration, headaches, dry throat, and obesity. The resulting daytime tiredness makes those with OSA two to seven times more likely to have a vehicular accident and more apt to have occupational mishaps. Untreated, OSA significantly increases risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes.
Apnea literally means “without breath.” Sufferers often snore loudly (although not all snorers have sleep apnea). As the patient relaxes, soft tissues at the back of the throat obstruct airflow. Episodes of apnea are characterized by periods of very light breathing or involuntary pauses in breath lasting ten seconds or longer. The patient gasps or chokes into semi-wakefulness, and the whole process starts again, interrupting sleep, and that of a bed-mate, many times each night.
Historically, treatment consisted of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. A mask is worn over the mouth and/or nose, and the CPAP very effectively directs enough air into the throat to hold the airway open. However, the machine is cumbersome and noisy; not well tolerated.
Dr. Mungcal at Downtown Dental has a practical solution that brings relief to many of his patients – a custom-fitted oral appliance. This small dental device, about the size of a mouth-guard, comfortably holds the lower jaw open and slightly forward to promote natural airflow. In most cases, snoring is reduced or eliminated. Patients sleep soundly, and their sleep partners awake refreshed as well. For the most acute cases, a dental device may aid in the effectiveness of CPAP therapy.
Schedule a consultation with your dentist in Los Angeles, Dr. Mungcal, to talk about scheduling a sleep study. He will help you determine if you have sleep apnea and could benefit from an oral sleep appliance.