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While snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, it isn't always. Snoring is simply the sound that occurs when soft tissues in the mouth and throat vibrate during sleep. It can be harmless, or it can be a sign of a medical condition called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that endangers your health. It is caused by episodes of airway blockage and is accompanied by extremely loud snoring or gasping sounds. Your throat closes or relaxes preventing your body from getting the oxygen it needs.
Make an appointment with our Rohnert Park sleep apnea dentist, Dr. Sutton, if you have concerns about snoring or your sleep quality.
Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea raises your risk of stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. Fitful sleeping, daytime fatigue, and irritability are a few common symptoms of this condition. If you experience these symptoms or are known to be a loud snorer, it is very important to set up an appointment at Sonoma Smiles.
Dr. Sutton can help you understand your risk factors and get a proper diagnosis and treatment for this serious condition.
Who Is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common condition that can affect anyone, though men have twice the risk as women. About half the sufferers are overweight. And although the condition can happen at any age, the risk increases as you get older.
Other risk factors include having airways that are naturally narrow, a history of sinus troubles, or enlarged tonsils that can reduce airflow. In addition, the use of certain substances such as alcohol, sedatives, and medications can also compound the problem.
How to Choose a Sleep Dentistry Team
As a dental sleep medicine practitioner, Dr. Sutton works closely with area sleep physicians to provide holistic care for our patients. You can seek us out directly or ask your physician for a referral. Because of his extensive training and membership in the American Academy for Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Sutton is one of the few experienced dentists in the Sonoma County area to offer this unique service. Contact our Rohnert Park sleep apnea dentist today for a consultation.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Dentists diagnose sleep apnea based on medical histories, a physical exam, and a sleep study. Dr. Sutton at Sonoma Smiles can help you find a reputable sleep specialist and can also work with you for some of the treatments.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
There are many ways to reduce snoring and treat sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes or treating underlying conditions such as losing weight, adjusting your sleeping position, or avoiding certain drugs and stimulants can improve these conditions.
But for moderate-to-serious sufferers of sleep apnea, it is important to find treatments that prevent the constriction of the airway, including the following:
- Breathing devices may be recommended in moderate-to-severe cases. Referred to as continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines, these devices use gentle pressure to keep airways open. Though considered the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment, some patients find this option uncomfortable and may seek alternative treatments.
- Mouthpieces, or oral appliances, open the lower jaw and adjust the tongue to help keep your airways open while you sleep. Sonoma Smiles can custom fit an oral appliance to improve airflow while sleeping. Many of our patients find this to be an effective, less invasive solution.
- Surgery is sometimes recommended to help widen breathing passages by shrinking, tightening, or removing excess tissue in the throat. This would be performed by a qualified surgeon.
Sonoma Smiles can help you diagnose and treat sleep apnea. For more information, please schedule an appointment with Wayne Sutton, DDS, and we will be in touch with you shortly.
(All photos of actual patients)