The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Our Millburn dental team looks to educate our patients on the big dental topics and the lesser known dental topics. Some dental problems like gum disease and sleep apnea are less obvious than something like crooked or dingy teeth. But problems like sleep apnea are more dangerous than people realize.
Most people associate sleep apnea with heavy snoring. While snoring is the most common sign of sleep apnea, the problem extends much further than simple snoring. It’s a dangerous disease that rubs elbows with problems like heart disease, weight gain, and stroke. Sleep apnea occurs when the airways are obstructed or when the brain fails to send signals to the body to breathe.
What’s so different about sleep apnea is that it can affect anyone at any age. It can even affect a world-class athlete in his prime.
A few nights ago, I tuned into the World Series to watch the Cubs battle the Indians. The game was interesting, but it was something that happened when the ball wasn’t in play that stopped me in my tracks. During a short break, the FOX reported Ken Rosenthal did a piece about the Cleveland Indians’ player Mike Napoli. This happened to be Napoli’s third World Series trip, but that wasn’t the topic of the story.
It turns out that Napoli had been a long-time sufferer of sleep apnea. He struggled with the problem throughout his 20s, and his problem was so severe that doctors discovered he was waking up as much as 100 times a night. In fact, he never even reached REM and couldn’t remember the last time he had a dream. He had all the signs of sleep apnea, including constant fatigue and daytime drowsiness. He felt so bad that he even considered quitting the game of baseball for good. His problem was so severe that Napoli needed corrective surgery to open his airways. Now he’s breathing normally, sleeping a full eight hours at night, and finally dreaming again.
Unlike Napoli’s case, most patients with sleep apnea do not need surgery. Most patients can treat their sleep apnea with a comfortable CPAP machine or oral appliance. The oral appliance is a device that pushes the lower jaw forward to keep the airways open. This treatment is ideal for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. We can also set up CPAP treatment for patients with more severe sleep apnea.
Our office can easily diagnosis your sleep apnea with a special at-home test. This test is special in that most dental offices do not offer such easy screening for sleep apnea. In most cases, you’ll need to visit a sleep physician, which will cost you additional time and money.
By treating your sleep apnea, we can help relieve:
• Your morning headaches
• Daytime fatigue
• High-blood pressure
I’m so passionate about treating sleep apnea because it’s an overall health issue. By treating your sleep apnea, you’ll find energy that you never knew you had. And you’ll give your bed partner some relief from the snoring! If you’ve been told you snore loud enough to wake the dead, it’s time to see a sleep dentist for your problems. Call our office today at (973) 957-1604 to schedule your visit with us.