Category Archives: Sleep Apnea

My Heart Doctor Wants Me to Get Checked for Sleep Apnea

I was sent to a heart doctor because my heart rate has jumped significantly. I’ve had tachycardia on a regular basis. After a consultation, he said the first thing he want’s me to do is get a sleep study. He feels certain I have sleep apnea. What does that have to do with heart problems?

Mila Y

Dear Mila,

Boston Sleep Apnea

Believe it or not, a great many heart problems are caused by untreated sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, the tissue in the back of your throat relaxes while you sleep. In the process, it blocks your breathing passage, depriving you of oxygen. Your body realizes you’re no longer breathing and wakes you up. You wake up with a start (just enough to get a breath) and generally fall back asleep without even realizing you’d stopped breathing and woken up. This cycle can repeat many times throughout the night, sometimes hundreds of times.

You can imagine the type of stress this puts on your heart. It has to pump significantly more in order to make up for the lost oxygenation to your body. If you deal with the sleep apnea, you give your heart the needed rest, which should bring your heart rate back to normal.

A sleep study can tell you a lot. If sleep apnea isn’t the problem, there are other reasons for tachycardia, so there are other things for your cardiologist to look out. But, you always want to eliminate the least invasive solutions first, if they seem like a possibility. One symptom of sleep apnea is snoring.

Why do a heart ablation if a simple orthotic device, while you’re sleeping, will solve the problem?

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Why Is My Heart Doctor Sending Me to My Dentist?

I’ve had an elevated heart beat and my doctor sent me to a heart specialist. I saw her and she said the problem is sleep apnea and I need to see a dentist. How could any of that affect my heart?

Emily P.

Dear Emily,

Sleep apnea does contribute to heart problems. What happens is you stop breathing over and over again throughout the night. Your body recognizes you’re no longer getting oxygen and wakes you up. It doesn’t wake you up all the way though. It just startles you awake enough to cause you to start breathing again.

Unfortunately, this can happen literally hundreds of time a night. The amount of time you lack oxygen then wake up puts stress on your heart.

I’m assuming your heart doc did some type of sleep study on you to confirm you actually have sleep apnea. If not, she’s making assumptions which aren’t safe for you.

Talk to your dentist. He or she can arrange for you to get a sleep study done. Often, it’s covered by medical insurance. Your dentist can work with your doctor to get you a prescription for one.

If the results show you have sleep apnea, then your dentist can fit you with an orthotic to help you breathe freely throughout the night.  You’ll likely find you’re a lot less tired and you feel much better throughout the day once this is dealt with.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Can Sleep Apnea Kill My Son?

I went in to check on my son the other night. Even though he’s 17 I still like to do that. I get teary every time I think about the fact that he’ll be going to college this summer. Which makes the next thing I have to say even more terrifying. He’s always been a snorer, but I noticed he stopped breathing more than once. I’d start to panic and then he’d just start back again. I’ve been doing some research and I think he has something called sleep apnea. Can he die from that? I kept thinking what happens if his body doesn’t start him back breathing. Is there anything I can do to help him?

Maureen L. – Nashville, TN

Maureen,

I understand your fears. All of them. A child leaving home is a very frightening time of life…for the parent anyway. Most of the time, the children themselves are thrilled to pieces. Though even they, very deep down, are a tad nervous.

Your description of your son’s snoring and pattern of halted breathing does sound like sleep apnea. As to whether it can kill him, to scary answer is yes. The dangers of sleep apnea are heart rhythm problems (which sometimes leads to sudden death), elevated blood pressure, and stroke. However, there is good news. Sleep apnea isn’t difficult to treat.

It used to be the only way to treat this condition was the bulky, noisy CPAP machine. It’s quite hard to get teens, especially self-conscious teens starting off at college to wear the device. They don’t want to appear weird in front of their dorm roommates. However, now you can often wear a simple orthotic. It fits like a small sport’s mouthguard and is discreet and noiseless.

The orthotic repositions his jaw to open up the area of the throat where his muscles are collapsing in on themselves. That causes both the snoring and the halted breathing.

Your son likely doesn’t realize how much this is draining him. He’s probably even unaware it’s even happening. But, when he gets the right amount of oxygen he’ll feel much more awake and alert during the day. He’ll even find it easier to concentrate on his studies.

Get him in to see his dentist as soon as you reasonably can to have him fitted for the device. They’re custom designed for his specific bite, which is one of the things that makes them so comfortable.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Can You Save My Marriage?

I’ve been married for a few weeks and haven’t slept since. My husband snores like you would not believe. I’m becoming grumpy. We had our first fight and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t so sleep deprived. My sister said her husband used to snore and her dentist stopped it. I’m not sure how a dentist can fix that, but I’m willing to try anything.

LeeAnne S. – Colorado

LeeAnne,

First, I’ll say congratulations on your marriage! Don’t worry about the fight. All couples fight.  The important thing is to keep remembering why you love one another.

If your husband is snoring, it’s possible the cause is sleep apnea.  It has to do with the muscles relaxing at the back of his throat. A dentist who treats sleep apnea can custom fit an oral device that will gently reposition his bite so the passageway is cleared, stopping the snoring.

On top of you getting some sleep, your husband will start feeling more energetic as well.  He won’t even realize it, but sleep apnea will interrupt his breathing and sleeping pattern over and over throughout the night.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Dry Mouth for Sleep Apnea

My hygienist said she thinks I have sleep apnea based on some of the things she saw during my cleaning. I didn’t even know that was a thing, let alone that it was so easy to tell, but what she says seems to match up exactly with what I have going on. First, I wake up every morning and my mouth is totally dry and my throat is sore. I always feel tired, which she says is from my body waking up throughout the night. She also said that I’m starting to get some gum disease on just my front teeth and I’ve got a tiny cavity on one of my lower front teeth near the gum line. She claims that both of these things could be caused by my tissues drying out overnight due to the sleep apnea. I didn’t think to ask while I was in and she didn’t offer any solutions. Are there any ways to fix the dry mouth? Is there a medication I can go on or something that might help?

Thanks,

Jared

Dear Jared,

It certainly sounds like you could be suffering from sleep apnea. The symptoms match up. When you breathe with your mouth open at night, everything dries up and that can contribute to oral health problems. People who have sleep apnea tend to wake themselves up repeatedly throughout the night as well, simply because they can’t breathe properly. Because you might not be making it through full sleep cycles, it can be an awful lot like not sleeping at all.

With all that said, these are symptoms and you now know that the underlying cause is. You can fix the symptoms, but it’s better to treat the cause of them. There’s a good chance your dentist can make you a nighttime appliance to help align your jaw better to keep your airway clear. Call and double check if they do. Most mild to moderate cases can be solved by something this simple. If the appliance doesn’t help, you may want to ask for a referral to a specialist and have a sleep study done, so you can get a CPAP.

While you wait for your appointment, you can try using an over-the-counter remedy like Biotene. You should also be very diligent about brushing before bed, to make sure that you aren’t leaving anything behind that might spur decay.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Got Kicked Out of My Hotel Room for Snoring

I was on a trip with a bunch of girls from my dance team. Apparently, I snore…a lot. It was so bad, they kicked me out of the hotel room we were sharing. I had to sleep in the hall. I didn’t realize my snoring was so bad. What can I do?

Monica R. – TN

Monica,

If your snoring is that bad, you likely have what’s called sleep apnea. If you click on the link, it will take you to my website where I explain it more in depth.

What I’ll tell you here, is there is usually an easy solution. A dentist can custom fit an orthotic device that will tip your jaw forward just a tiny bit. It’s about the size of a sport’s mouthguard and very comfortable.

Repositioning your jaw keeps the muscles in the back of your throat from shifting into your breathing passage, causing snoring, and in the worst cases, moments where you stop breathing.

As an added benefit, you’ll find that you’re much more rested when you wake in the mornings.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

 

Options If You Hate Your CPAP

I have mild sleep apnea and have been using a CPAP device for a few years. I really don’t like it. The sound scares my wife. It’s bulky, invasive, and uncomfortable. Are there options or is my wife stuck sleeping with Darth Vader?

Ben H. – Colorado

Ben,

You’re not alone in your dislike of a CPAP. We’ve heard from quite a few patients seeking an alternative.

Before your wife starts threatening you with a Jedi battle, I’d talk to a dentist familiar with sleep apnea and all the treatments available.

There is an oral device that can be used. It looks a little like a sport’s mouth guard and doesn’t make any sounds.  However, it is only viable for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

I’m assuming, because you have a CPAP, that you’ve already had a sleep study done.  That will help your dentist determine if alternative treatments will work for you.

If you haven’t had a study done. I’d highly recommend it. You can often get your insurance to cover it with a note from your doctor.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Is There A Way to Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

My wife says I must have sleep apnea, because I snore. She’s also worried that I stop breathing sometimes. I’m not sure that’s true, though. I feel fine. And I don’t want to waste time and money dealing with the doctor if it’s not a real problem. Is there a way to test for it at home?

Thanks,

Greg H. – Pennsylvania

Dear Greg,

There are a number of causes for snoring, and just about everyone does it from time to time. Some causes that you’ll have no control over are the shape of your mouth and your general anatomy. Other causes that you can do something about are being overweight, drinking alcohol, your sleep position, and sleep apnea. Sometimes people snore temporarily because they’re fighting an illness.

If she’s saying you’re also stopping breathing, this is a problem and it needs to be looked at. Although you can certainly visit a sleep center and get a formal diagnosis with an overnight stay, your dentist may also be able to diagnose it and treat it with an appliance made in the office.

Being tired during the day, despite a full night of rest, having a dry mouth when you wake, and morning headaches, can also be symptoms of sleep apnea. Mention it to your dentist next time you’re in, or schedule a consultation if your next checkup is a ways out.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Do I Need Allergy or Sleep Apnea Treatment?

I saw my primary care doctor and he wanted me to have a sleep study done and possibly get sleep apnea treatment. I told him it was just my allergies keeping me up at night, but he kept pushing the study. I really don’t want to do it. There’s no way I’m going to be able to sleep with one of those masks on my face every night. I really just want to find a medication that can help me manage my allergy symptoms better. Should I see an allergist instead or do I actually have to go through with the study?

Thanks,

Ryan

Dear Ryan,

Interestingly, there’s a chance you’re both correct. It sounds like your doctor suspects you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is most common form of sleep apnea. If your upper airway becomes obstructed and you try to breathe in, your airway essentially collapses in on itself as you struggle to pull air into your lungs. The lack of oxygen is a problem for obvious reasons, but the process can actually wake you up repeatedly throughout the night. These disruptions destroy the quality of rest you get, and lead to grogginess during the day. Some studies have shown that those who suffer from OSA are more dangerous than drunk-drivers behind the wheel.

There are studies that link OSA to allergies as well.  It’s believed that allergic rhinitis or hay fever causes the tissues to become irritated and swell. This gives the air less space to pass through, which then presents itself as OSA.

It’s certainly a good idea to treat your allergies. Even if they aren’t causing your OSA, they’re probably making you miserable and giving you other issues. The good news is that if you do need sleep apnea treatment as well, you may not need to wear a mask. Mild cases can be treated by a simple appliance, similar to a mouth guard, that your dentist can make. It’s a good idea to bring your dentist on board regardless, because allergy meds tend to cause dry mouth, which can lead to dental problems. Your dentist can help address this, too, so that you can manage it before it has a chance to cause damage to your teeth and gums.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Does sleep apnea really cause gum disease?

I’m undergoing treatment for gum disease. Now my dentist is telling me that my gum disease is likely from my sleep apnea and he wants me to buy a special device. This sounds hinky to me. Is there really a connection between the two?

Emma T. – Joplin, MO

Emma,

While it may sound hinky, there is actually a correlation between sleep apnea and gum disease. The main culprit is the propensity for mouth breathing when you have sleep apnea. This dries out your gums, which lessons your saliva. That saliva is essential in fighting the bacteria that lurks in your mouth.

The device your dentist is speaking of will properly align the hinge joint in your jaw. The will keep your tongue and muscles from impinging your breathing.

Not only will you sleep much better and feel more rested, but you’ll find your overall health improves. It’s worth getting if you have sleep apnea.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.