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The Real Impacts of Sleep Apnea

Sick of your CPAP? We have some exciting news at BOCO Dental! We are now treating people of all ages with a proprietary, non-invasive, nonsurgical treatment option for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, snoring and sleep disordered breathing. Here is some information about sleep apnea and why this is such an important issue to be aware of.

So… What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is characterized by a person’s breathing stopping and starting throughout the night. 

There are three main types of sleep apnea, and all can cause snoring, feelings of tiredness even after a full night of sleep, and possibly serious health issues.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea, and is caused by muscles in the throat relaxing to the point of blocking the flow of air into the lungs. Once the brain realizes that air is not flowing, the person will wake up just enough to restart their breathing.
  • Central Sleep Apnea is a problem with the brain, and occurs when your subconscious mind doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome is when someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea, and is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

An estimated 80% of people with obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed.  Yes, this is a shocking statistic! Being aware of the symptoms is the first step towards getting help.

The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep or stopping breathing during sleep
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty paying attention while awake
  • Irritability
  • TMJ

At BOCO Dental, we use technology developed by SleepImage to assess your sleep quality objectively.   All sleep data are diagnosed by a certified Sleep MD.  If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with us!

Sleep Apnea can cause fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

Although sleep apnea can affect any person (even children!), there are factors that increase your risk. Understanding these factors can help you have awareness and take action before long term damage is done.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Obstructive sleep apnea has the following risk factors:

  • Excess weight. Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing.
  • Neck circumference. People with thicker necks might have narrower airways.
  • A narrowed airway. You might have inherited a narrow throat. Tonsils or adenoids also can enlarge and block the airway, particularly in children.
  • Being male. Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than are women. However, women increase their risk if they’re overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
  • Being older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
  • Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
  • Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat, which can worsen obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked. Smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
  • Nasal congestion. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether from an anatomical problem or allergies — you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Medical conditions. Congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease are some of the conditions that may increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, prior stroke and chronic lung diseases such as asthma also can increase risk.

At BOCO Dental we are passionate about your health! Do you have one or more of these risk factors? Call us for an evaluation, we can help you!

Health Complications Caused by Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition and is not to be taken lightly. As we learn more about the body and brain, scientists are learning just how important continuous sleep is for recovery and growth, as well as overall health. Sleep apnea disturbs the sleep, and starves the brain of oxygen, which can result in the following complications in adults:

  • Daytime fatigue. Disruptions in sleep caused by sleep apnea make normal sleep impossible. This can cause severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability.
  • Difficulty Concentrating. Sleep apnea might cause a lack of focus, an increase in workplace accidents, or issues staying awake while driving or watching TV. 
  • Mood Swings or Irritability. Moodiness, depression, and irritability are possible complications caused by sleep apnea.  This can be especially problematic for children and adolescents with sleep apnea, who might perform poorly in school or have behavior issues.
  • High blood pressure or heart issues. When a person has an apneaic event, their blood oxygen levels drop suddenly, which can increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Having obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Heart Attack. Obstructive sleep apnea might also increase your risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. For people with heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have indicated that sleep apnea may cause metabolic changes that increase insulin resistance. The most interesting thing about the current studies is that in mice, the intermittent hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in your body tissues) caused by sleep apnea can cause a distinct drop in insulin sensitivity, however, chronic hypoxia, such as that associated with high altitude, did not.
  • Metabolic syndrome. The correlation with this disorder is likely due to the high prevalence of obesity in people with sleep apnea. This being said, its prevalence varies from 74 to 85% among patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Associated issues include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, an increased waist circumference, and it is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea can also be a concern with medications and general anesthesia. Complications after major surgery become more likely in people with sleep apnea because they’re prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs.
  • Liver problems. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
  • Impaired Memory or Alzheimer’s Disease. Disruptions in sleep caused by sleep apnea keep the brain from healing and resting. People with sleep apnea have been shown to have impaired memory and executive function, and in some cases, biomarker changes that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because of this, sleep apnea is considered a risk factor for dementia.

Treatment of sleep apnea can literally save lives.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Why now?  Since 2017, the American Dental Association has encouraged dentist to screen for Sleep Related Breathing Disorders / Sleep Apnea.  Because Dentists are experts of the oral cavity, they are uniquely positioned to notice the oral signs of sleep apnea and be part of the treatment team. 

At BOCO Dental we can help those who have sleep apnea!  The first step is to be evaluated to confirm diagnosis, and to understand the root cause of your sleep apnea.  Diagnosis can be done with an at home sleep test and or additional information that we can gather upon examination in the office. 

For treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP/AutoPAP), oral appliance therapy (OAT), epigenetic orthodontic therapy (EOT), orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT), and/or ENT surgical procedures based on clinical correlation and co-morbidities. 

If it is determined that you do indeed have sleep apnea, an oral appliance can help mitigate its negative effects and get you living better. At BOCO Dental, we can test and treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea with the non-invasive Vivos Method.

The Vivos Method treats the root cause of sleep apnea by widening the bones in the mouth.

This method uses a custom fit mouth guard to stimulate bone growth in the mouth, facial structures and nasal passageways. In other words, it works by increasing the size of the upper airway and balances the jaw in a more open and forward position. As the treatment progresses, breathing patterns during sleep can normalize, and often patients find that they breath through their nose more. The Vivos Method is the only FDA approved device to treat sleep apnea.

Benefits of Early Treatment

Sleep apnea can be an issue, even in young children.

Certainly, genetics have a role to play.  Unfortunately, since we have been eating an industrialized diet, tooth jaw development has not happened the way it should, and as a result, many people end up with an under developed maxilla. When a child has an underdeveloped upper and/or lower jaw, the airway could be impacted, and the child may struggle with other health issues during their lifetime.  It starts young.   It is known that a child who has sleep apnea will grow  up to be an adult who has sleep apnea.  

Some signs of sleep apnea in children include:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Bedwetting
  • Chronic Allergies
  • Dark Circles Under the Eyes
  • Swollen Tonsils and Adenoids
  • Trouble at School
  • Irritability
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Restless Sleep or Snoring
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Daytime Drowsiness
  • Nightmares or Night Terrors
  • Arrested Growth or Crowded/Crooked Teeth
Early treatment of sleep apnea can help prevent many long term issues, even in children.

A removable oral appliance can be used to widen the palate, and can be safely and easily used on children. In conjunction with screening for oral soft tissue considerations (like tongue ties and posturing), children can be treated and a young age, develop a correct size maxilla, swallowing habits, and hopefully avoid being diagnosis with sleep apnea as an adult.  

If you or your child are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with us today!!

Are you or a loved one experiencing the drawbacks of sleep apnea?

Call BOCO Dental today to schedule a consultation and treat the problem!


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