Effective alternative to conventional sleep apnea & snoring treatment available in Annandale, VA
The health of an estimated 22 million Americans is impacted by sleep disorders. Considering the vital nature of breathing and quality sleep, that figure is a tragedy. Fortunately, you have taken the first important step toward improvement by visiting this website. Annandale, VA biological/holistic general dentist, Dr. Richard Fischer, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine in the treatment of sleep apnea, sleep disordered breathing, & snoring.
Do you have sleep apnea?
Underlying sleep apnea causes vary from person to person. However, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the path air follows into and out of the lungs narrows or closes off during sleep. These pauses in breathing deprive the brain and body of oxygen. The brain senses this threat and sends a rush of adrenalin to wake you, which interrupts sleep . . . many times through the night. Severe apneics have dozens of episodes per hour, keeping them (as well as their bedmates) from reaching deep levels of sleep where cellular rejuvenation occurs.
Sleep Apnea Cause And Effect
When you breathe, air travels down your throat, through your windpipe and into your lungs. The narrowest part of that pathway is in the back of your throat when you’re awake muscles keep that pathway relatively wide open but when you sleep those muscles relax, allowing the opening to narrow. The air passing through this narrowed opening may cause the throat to vibrate, that causes snoring, which many people experience but in some people the throat closes so much that enough air can’t get through to the lungs. When this happens the brain sends an alarm to open the airway. Most often this is associated with a brief arousal from sleep. The brain quickly reactivates the muscles that hold the throat open. Air gets through again and the brain goes back to sleep. This disorder is called obstructive sleep apnea.
While loud, erratic, or chronic snoring is a noticeable indicator, there are many other sleep apnea symptoms including:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry mouth or throat in the morning
- Frequent bathroom breaks during the night
- History of workplace or vehicle accidents
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Irritability, depression, or mood swings
- Jerking, choking, or snorting during sleep
- Poor memory
- Reduced libido
- Unusual sleep positions
- Waking with a headache
- GERD (gastric reflux)
What is sleep apnea and how can it be diagnosed? - Dr. Fischer
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is something that occurs in a great large percentage of the population, it is mostly undiagnosed, but it is something that when people are awake, there are muscles in the throat that keep the airway wide open so you don’t stop breathing when you are walking around and working.
But when you go to sleep, the muscles that keep the airway wide open become limp. And as those muscles become limp, the airway in the throat collapses to some degree and to some degree, this is normal.
How do you diagnose sleep apnea?
In some people that have certain maybe anatomical predispositions, say a big neck or large tonsils or a retruded large jaw, the airway collapse becomes more significant.
And it can happen to the point as with sleep apnea, where the patient will actually stop breathing for periods of time during the night, and if you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer, that’s called an apneic event. So, if that happens more than a certain number of times per hour, then the sleep apnea is graded on either mild, moderate, or severe.
How does sleep apnea happen?
We have some patients who stop breathing more than 100 times an hour, and so what happens when that occurs your brain is not getting oxygen to those cells the whole body is not getting oxygen. And then when you briefly awaken and it is usually not a conscious awaking but what they call arousal.
The brain will say to the rest of your body, “”Hey I need to breathe!”” and so it will actually waken you from your deep level of sleep. You are not awakened so that you’re conscious or can talk or hear, but you’re awake enough where your throat muscles will engage and open up that airway again.
So, if that happens 10, 20, 30, 40 or we see over 100 times an hour where this occurs. You can imagine that the patient wakes up in the morning and is about as tired as when they went to bed at night.
What are the effects of sleep apnea on the body?
If you ever held your breath for 20 or 30 seconds longer you will realize that your heart starts beating faster because now the blood has less oxygen, the heart has to pump the blood through its blood vessels much more quickly to get the lesser and lesser level of oxygen in and around of the body to keep it alive.
This strain on the cardiovascular system the heart and the blood vessels is why people with untreated sleep apnea have about a fivefold increase in dying during their sleep from either a heart attack or stroke and it can be a very serious medical issue.
Treatments for sleep apnea available at Evergreen Dental Wellness explained by Richard Fischer, DDS
What are the treatments available for sleep apnea?
If you are tested and do have sleep apnea, the three major treatments are – for people who are obese, especially if you are more than 20% over your normal body weight.
We will be putting you on a weight reduction program. Sometimes reducing weight can reduce the frequency and severity of sleep apnea and do nothing more than that.
In more severe cases, we will recommend something called a CPAP machine. It is a mask that has a pump attached to it. It forces air through your nose or the mouth depending on the type of mask you need.
By forcing the air through that obstruction in your throat and keeps your breathing normal throughout the night.
The third and easiest recommendation is an oral appliance, which is what we do mostly. It is an oral appliance just like a mouthguard. It holds the lower jaw in a little forward position.
As the lower jaw moves forward the airway tends to get larger. We find a position where the jaw is comfortable and is forward enough where the airway is large enough that we get rid of the sleep apnea in the majority of our patients.
Non-CPAP treatment for snoring & sleep apnea in Annandale, VA
Do you want to stop snoring and start getting healthier sleep? Does the idea of trying to rest wearing a facemask and tethered to a CPAP machine sound unrealistic? Dr. Fischer can help with proven non-surgical solutions for snoring and sleep apnea.
CPAP forces the airway open using a facemask with pressure from a continuous stream of air produced by a compressor. Dr. Fischer takes a different approach, with a custom fitted mouth guard. This small appliance fits over teeth, gently repositioning oral posture. As it holds the mouth slightly open, it prevents the jaw from dropping back toward the neck as you relax, and the airway stays open.