sleep apnea faq

Your Sleep Apnea Questions Answered

At Palm Dental Professionals: Snoring and Sleep Apnea Therapy, we understand the impact that sleep apnea can have on your overall health and well-being, and we get a lot of the same questions about the condition from our patients. Whether you are seeking answers for yourself or a loved one, we are committed to supporting you on your journey towards a restful and rejuvenating sleep. Let’s dive into the world of sleep apnea and find the solutions you need for a better night’s sleep and a healthier life.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions, known as apneas, can occur due to a partial or complete blockage of the upper airway. The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open. This leads to a disruption in airflow and a decrease in oxygen levels in the body.

During an apnea episode, individuals may partially awaken to resume breathing, often accompanied by a loud gasp or snort. These disruptions in breathing can occur numerous times throughout the night, fragmenting sleep and preventing individuals from reaching deep, restorative sleep stages.

How common is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea affects millions of people worldwide. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 20 million adults suffer from sleep apnea. While the condition can affect individuals of any age, it is more commonly observed in adults, particularly those who are overweight or obese. Unfortunately, OSA is a grossly underrecognized and underdiagnosed medical condition.

What causes sleep apnea?

Several factors can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea, including obesity, excess weight around the neck area, a family history of the condition, aging, smoking, alcohol or sedative use, and anatomical abnormalities in the throat or airway.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms include loud snoring, episodes of gasping or choking during sleep, insomnia, waking with dry mouth, frequent nighttime urination, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, and restless sleep. It’s important to note that not all individuals with this condition experience the same symptoms, and some may be unaware of their condition without a proper diagnosis.

Why should I get treatment?

Treatment is crucial for several reasons. Untreated sleep apnea can significantly impact your overall health and quality of life. The condition has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and other medical conditions. Additionally, this condition can impair your cognitive function, decrease productivity, and lead to daytime drowsiness, potentially affecting your performance at work, school, or while driving. By seeking treatment, you can improve your sleep quality, reduce health risks, and enhance your overall well-being.

Does everyone who snores have sleep apnea?

While loud snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has the condition. Snoring can occur for various reasons, including nasal congestion, alcohol consumption, or sleeping position. However, if you or your partner notice persistent and disruptive snoring accompanied by other symptoms like gasping or choking during sleep, it is recommended to undergo a sleep study or consult to determine if sleep apnea is the underlying cause.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

There are three main types of sleep apnea: OSA, central sleep apnea (CSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea. OSA is the most common form and occurs when the throat muscles relax, leading to a blockage of the airway. Central sleep apnea is characterized by the brain failing to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Complex or mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the other two types. Proper diagnosis through a sleep study is essential to determine the specific type of the condition to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Is CPAP the only treatment?

CPAP is the most well-known treatment and is typically effective for patients who tolerate it, but it isn’t the only option. In some cases, surgery is recommended. At Snoring and Sleep Apnea Therapy, we offer NightLase and oral appliance therapy. NightLase helps to open the airway and has been successful for patients with primary snoring, or when used in combination with oral appliance therapy for OSA. Patients who struggle with the CPAP mask, or do not want to use this treatment due to comfort or lifestyle, are good candidates for oral appliance therapy.

Are oral appliances as good as CPAP?

Many people find CPAP machines to be uncomfortable, noisy, and difficult to travel with. Research has shown that for many, a custom-fit oral appliance is as effective in treating sleep apnea as a CPAP, and patients are more compliant using the oral appliance than the CPAP machine. Oral appliances are comfortable, portable and easy to use; cleaning the device is simple too!

Are oral appliances covered by insurance?

Dental insurance typically does not cover the fabrication of an oral appliance. However, since sleep apnea is a medical condition, many medical plans and Medicare may! Our team will review your insurance coverage, and discuss your benefits with you, before fabricating your appliance.

What are Dr. Burman’s credentials?

Dr. Burman, a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (D.ABDSM), completed a stringent Mastery program, demonstrated proficiency in the area of sleep-related breathing disorders (including the fabrication and use of mandibular positioning devices) and passed a rigorous written examination. This unique distinction recognizes the commitment to exceptional patient care, ongoing continuing education, and competency in dental sleep medicine. Dr. Burman is one of a small group of dental professionals (less than 2,000) with this designation in the United States.

For over 30 years, Dr. Burman has used lasers in his practice. He was awarded mastership status from the Academy of Laser Dentistry. He regularly attends Continuing Education programming to maintain his knowledge and skills and shares his knowledge through lecturing. Dr. Burman has extensive experience performing NightLase to open the airway and help his patients achieve improved sleep.

We look forward to helping you achieve better sleep!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.