Tag Archives: Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

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.

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.