What is sleep apnea?
Snoring can disrupt your sleep and annoy your bedroom partner. It can also be life threatening when it’s symptomatic of sleep apnea, a disorder that’s characterized by brief pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can occur many times over the course of a night and can interfere with the normal stages of sleep.
Sufferers often complain of bed partners throwing them out of the room because of loud snoring. They may also gasp for breath, suffer excessive tiredness and poor memory or fall asleep during the day, dosing off during work, at the movies and while driving. Sleep apnea has been related to auto accident fatalities, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
Understanding sleep apnea
Help begins by taking a comprehensive history, including your symptoms, sleep habits, family and work issues, medical conditions, medications, sleepiness patterns and how the problem affects those around you. There are simple questionnaires that can help quantify the severity of your problem.
This history is followed by an examination during which your airway will be evaluated as well as your teeth, jaw function, weight and blood pressure. Often, sleep laboratory tests will be ordered to better assess the severity of the problem.
Getting help for sleep apnea
In mild cases, simple recommendations, such as losing weight, sleeping on your side, exercising and avoiding alcohol can be of help. Other times, further intervention is necessary to help open your airway. In moderate to severe cases, physicians may prescribe a treatment known as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). This is an electronic device that pumps air into a mask that’s held over your nose by a strap while you sleep.
Because many people find CPAP uncomfortable, the machine noisy and in general stop using it over time, dental appliances can be extremely helpful for treating snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. These appliances come in many shapes and configurations, but generally involve two components one worn on the upper teeth and the other on the lower teeth and position the jaw and tongue forward to open the airway.
Relief for Sleep Apnea
If you have difficulty biting or chewing, snore or experience frequent head, neck or tooth aches, you may be suffering from one of several disorders of the nerves or joints of the jaw. These disorders often go undiagnosed, leading sufferers on a merry-go-round of medical visits and tests.
Fortunately, relief is available. Dr. Kaplan, who is widely recognized as an expert in TMJ treatment and orofacial pain, will conduct a comprehensive examination to diagnose the source of your discomfort—and recommend ways to alleviate it.
To learn more, please select from the following conditions:
- TMJ: If you have difficulty biting or chewing or experience frequent head and neck pain, you may be suffering from a temporomandibular disorder, also known as “TMJ” or “TMD.”
- Orofacial Pain: If you have persistent tooth pain even though there is no rational explanation, burning pain in your face, tongue or mouth, headaches or migrating pain throughout your head, mouth and neck, you may have chronic orofacial pain (also referred to as “neuropathic pain,” “atypical odontalgia,” “phantom tooth pain” and “atypical facial pain”).