Category Archives: Sleep Apnea

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.

Pregnancy Induced Sleep Apnea

I’m 28 weeks pregnant, and often times when I sleep I get a shortness of breath which wakes me suddenly gasping for air. I’ve never had a problem like this before. It sounds like the symptoms of sleep apnea. Can I get pregnancy induced sleep apnea?

Melissa A. – Utah

Melissa, 

You are right in your idea of what sleep apnea is. It is a sleeping disorder, where there are pauses in your breathing. Instead of breathing in and out normally, you will spontaneously stop breathing and start back up again.

This can happen several times during the night. The incidence of sleep apnea in women of childbearing age is somewhere between one to ten percent. Lots of people may have sleep apnea without even knowing it. Women in particular, are more likely to develop sleep apnea during pregnancy and after menopause. Shortness of breath, along with restless sleep are very common in pregnancy, and alone aren’t indicative of sleep apnea.

It is actually quite rare in an otherwise healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy. It is more common in women with high blood pressure, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. However, do keep in mind that during pregnancy, the physical changes you experience may contribute to the development of sleep apnea. Also, pregnancy hormones can congest the mucous membranes of the upper airway; that congestion can increase the likelihood of sleep apnea.

It’s advisable to keep your weight gain within the recommended limits (not easy in pregnancy, I know), and talk to your doctor about any symptoms you are having. They can do further testing, such as a sleep study, which is the best way of getting an accurate sleep apnea diagnosis.

This blog is brought to you by Newton Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.

 

 

Why do I snore?

I went to an overnight party and my friends all said I snored. It was really embarassing. Why do I snore? Can I stop it?

Mandy – Denver

Mandy,

I’m sorry your felt embarassed. You should know a lot of people snore, so you are definitely not alone.

You can also know that snoring is generally a sign you have sleep apnea. That’s when the muscles in the back of your throat relax, which causes vibration. That vibration is the sound of your snoring.

If your mom takes you to the dentist. He or she can give you a mandibular device. That’s just a fancy word for a mouthpiece you can wear while you sleep. It will keep you from snoring.

This blog is brought to you by Newton, MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.

Does sleep apnea make you tired?

I’ve been tired a lot lately.  I wake up tired, even when I sleep a full night.  My doctor has checked my thyroid, my blood pressure, my vitamin D levels. Nothing has panned out.  A friend said it could be sleep apnea.  Can that make you tired? If it is sleep apnea, will I have to wear one of those Darth Vader masks?

Andrea M. – San Diego

Andrea,

Your friend could be right.  When you have sleep apnea, you actually wake up many times a night without realizing it because you stop breathing.  Not only is it disruptive to your rest, but it is also dangerous.

If you see a dentist who treats sleep apnea they can help you.  The solution may be as simple as wearing an oral appliance (which resembles a sports mouthguard). There are many things your dentist can use to solve your sleep apnea problem without forcing you to use a CPAP (the Darth Vader machine).

This blog is brought to you by Newton MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.

Don’t want a CPAP

I’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea. My dentist expects me to wear a CPAP machine.  I’m still young and such a contraption is very unattractive, especially since I am a woman.  Isn’t there some other treatment for sleep apnea?

Virginia S. – Long Island, NY

Virginia,

I understand the desire to be attractive. That being said, breathing is quite important as well. I would venture to say more important that attractiveness.  Before you get too frustrated with my response, I will tell you that there is another alternative.

Sleep apnea can also be treated with a mandibular advancement appliance.  It is similar in structure and appearance to a mouthguard, which you will find much more discrete than a CPAP.

The effectiveness of either treatment, really depends on each individual case.  You can try the mandibular device and see how it works for you.

This blog is brought to you by Newton, MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.

Does a snoring device just mask sleep apnea symptoms?

I believe my husband has sleep apnea. He thinks the problem is just snoring. I’d like him to see a dentist to get treated. He thinks all he needs to do is get a noring device. I’m afraid that will just mask the problem.  What should he do?

Reina H. – New Mexico

Reina,

Honestly, either scenario could be right. For mild to moderate sleep apnea an anti-snoring device will be just fine.  But, if he has a more severe case of sleep apnea, then he’ll likely need a breathing machine.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition.  Getting treatment is important.He may be waking up regularly  because he’s not breathing. Some patients don’t even realize that it is happening.

This can lead to daytime sleepiness as well as many other, more serious, health conditions.

The sooner he gets treatment, the quicker his symptoms will fade, and you’ll both feel more rested. If he’s already got an appointment scheduled with the dentist soon, it’s probably ok for him to speak to the doctor about it then. However, if he’s booked more than a couple weeks out, it’s worth checking to see if he can be seen sooner.

This blog is brought to you by Newton, MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.

Is a snoring device enough for sleep apnea?

I think I may have sleep apnea.  My husband says I’m snoring a lot and I always wake up tired. If I get a dental snoring device, will that be enough or do I have to sleep with a machine?

Annika W. – New York

Annika,

It does sound like you could be suffering from sleep apnea. That can be a serious condition that needs treatment. Which treatment you need honestly depends on the severity of your sleep apnea.

Your dentist can perform tests to determine whether you just need an oral appliance or a CPAP machine.  The key is to get with a dentist.  Sometimes your insurance will cover a sleep study.

This blog is brought to you by Newton, MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.