Sleep Apnea Clinic & Snoring Treatments In Calgary

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Can’t stop snoring? Waking up tired? Not getting a good sleep?

Missing a good night’s rest can have serious effects on your mental, physical, and psychological health.

It is so important to diagnose and treat sleep apnea as early as possible to prevent some of the more serious health risks associated with this sleep disorder. You might find your overall health will start to improve and you’ll feel more awake and productive.

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What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing while you sleep. When you’re asleep, the loose tissues at the back of your throat collapse, effectively cutting off your air supply. To cope with the lack of air, your brain triggers a response where you wake up a little. Once you change positions, you go back to sleep right away. This wake and sleep cycle repeats without you being aware of it.

While you probably have no recollection of waking up, the constant switching makes it hard to get a good night’s rest. For this reason, you may have all the signs of disturbed sleep even though you go to bed at the right time. And, wake up eight hours later.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Unsure if you’re suffering from sleep apnea? Some common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Grinding your teeth at night
  • Increase in cavities or dental decay
  • Receding gum lines
  • Inflamed gums
  • Periodontal disease
  • Red and irritated throat

Side Effects Of Ignoring Sleep Apnea Symptoms

If you ignore symptoms of sleep apnea you risk both mild and serious long-term side effects that include:
  • Waking up with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
  • Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness throughout the day
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Increased risk of work-related or motor-related injuries
  • Memory loss and poor concentration
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic acid reflux

Are you suffering from snoring or sleep apnea?

Take the Sleep Apnea test

Types Of Sleep Apnea

The causes of sleep apnea vary based upon the type of sleep apnea you are diagnosed with. There are three main types of sleep apnea:

  1. Central sleep apnea: This occurs when your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles in charge of breathing. This will cause you to stop breathing for short periods of time throughout the night. This may cause you to quickly awaken, gasping for breath, as well as struggle to stay asleep or fall back to sleep.
  2. Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when your throat muscles relax when you sleep. The muscles at the back of your throat are responsible for supporting the soft palate – which is the triangular dangler you see at the back of your throat – along with your tonsils, tongue, and the side walls of the throat.
  3. Complex sleep apnea syndrome (treatment-emergent central sleep apnea): This is the condition that exists when you have both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.

What causes sleep apnea?

People are not usually born with sleep apnea. Instead, it’s a condition that develops over time and is more common in older populations, although it can impact anyone. There are several factors that put you at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
  1. Obesity: While slimmer people can absolutely develop sleep apnea, it is more common in patients who are overweight. That’s because fat deposits around your upper airway can lead to obstructions in breathing.
  2. Thick neck: It might sound silly, but having a thicker neck makes you more prone to sleep apnea because it correlates with having narrower airways.
  3. Narrow airways: A narrow throat or airway can be inherited, it may also be caused by blockages such as tonsils or adenoids – especially common in children.
  4. Women: As unfair as it is, women are three times as likely to develop sleep apnea compared to men.
  5. Age: The older you are, the greater the risk you have of developing sleep apnea.
  1. Nasal congestion: There are many reasons why you may struggle breathing through your nose, from allergies to anatomical issues. No matter the cause, if you regularly suffer from congestion you are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
  2. Genetics: If your family has a history of sleep apnea, your risk for developing the condition increases.
  3. Alcohol and drug use: Using alcohol or sedatives before bed can cause the muscles in your throat to relax.
  4. Heart disorders: Congestive heart failure increases your risk of developing central sleep apnea.
  5. History of stroke: If you suffered a stroke, you are more likely to develop central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
  6. Smoking: Smokers are three times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea because smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in your upper airway.

How we'll help to identify the underlying cause of your sleep apnea.

When you visit our clinic to treat your sleep apnea, we’ll begin by asking you a series of questions related to the causes listed above, in which the answers you provide will help us understand the underlying cause or problem and work out the right treatment for you.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sometimes simple lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or switching up your sleeping position may be sufficient. However, sleep apnea oral appliances such as a Jaw Advancing Device (JAD) or a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) are commonly used to treat sleep apnea.

These sleep apnea devices are custom made by our dentists using a plastic-like mold that forms the perfect match to your teeth and mouth. Many patients are pleased to discover oral appliances can help stop snoring as well!

For more severe cases, you may need to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system. This device is worn during sleep and delivers air through a mask that applies pressure to keep airways open. Only in the most severe cases is surgery necessary.

Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?

Snoring and being an annoyance to your bed partner isn’t the only reason you should get treatment for sleep apnea. Research has identified a whole range of health problems you risk. Here are some of the important ones you should know about:
  • Patients with obstructive sleep apnea can stop breathing several times in a single night, depriving your brain and other organs of oxygen. As a result, the brain is unable to work properly or send nerve signals to the organs for optimum functioning.
  • Low blood oxygenation can result in various other issues like hypertension, heart disease, and heart arrhythmias.

 

  • You also risk diabetes and obesity because of the body’s inability to create and process sufficient insulin.
  • Depression and anxiety can also result from a lack of proper sleep.
  • Aside from health and psychological issues, you may also become more irritable, feel confused, and find it hard to focus on work.

FAQs

Your dentist can help you diagnose sleep apnea because there are several dental signs along with psychological or other health-related signs.

For example, sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax and obstruct breathing. It can be exacerbated by a large tongue or small jaw. Teeth grinding (bruxism) is another common sign of sleep apnea. Your dentist can tell if you grind your teeth at night by looking for worn and broken teeth, along with inflammation of the gums and receding gum lines. Additionally, a sudden increase in cavities can serve as another dental sign of sleep apnea because teeth grinding puts a lot of pressure on your teeth and make them more prone to cavities. Your body may instinctively start grinding your teeth to send a message to the brain to wake up and take a breath.

Although sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily “kill” you, it can drastically raise your chances of suffering from a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease (all of which are, sadly, life-threatening).

When you look at it that way, you could say that having untreated sleep apnea is a dangerous and deadly scenario to live with. Having a sleeping disorder isn’t something that you want to ignore; the condition goes much deeper than simply feeling tired or getting headaches in the morning.

Sleep apnea also raises your risk of daytime fatigue. So, if you’re prone to feeling tired and falling asleep, something as simple as driving a vehicle could prove to be deadly. Driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you’ve noticed that your blood pressure is higher than it used to be, or that you’re having difficulty concentrating in the daytime, it’s worth it to get screened for sleep apnea. Being proactive about your quality of sleep could help you live a healthier lifestyle and as such, increase your life expectancy.

Dental sleep appliances are designed to work in cases that involve obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a specific type of sleeping disorder where soft tissues like your tonsils, soft palate, and tongue collapse in on one another and seal off your airway. Oral sleep appliances are designed specifically to treat OSA, by keeping the airway open so that oxygen can flow to your lungs.

In order for your oral sleep aid to work properly, your dentist may have you keep a sleep journal to monitor your progress. Sometimes adjustments are needed to achieve the best fit and airway position.

Your pulmonologist may even tell you that your dental sleep appliance can replace your CPAP! Such situations are determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity and type of apnea that you’re living with.

Since oral sleep appliances are only available through dental offices that have been trained in sleep dentistry, you might find it necessary to search for a provider in your area on your own. Some sleep physicians may not partner with a dentist or automatically offer referrals, so be sure to ask your sleep expert if a dental appliance is appropriate for your situation.

Although snoring and sleep apnea can lead to dental problems, bad teeth don’t necessarily lead to snoring.

However, since snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, you might have a higher risk of “bad” teeth. People with obstructive sleep apnea instinctively clench and grind their teeth when their brain is deprived of oxygen; it’s a natural instinct. As that happens, the excessive forces can wear on your enamel or even break down your dental work.

People who snore might also suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia), because of the mouth breathing taking place. With xerostomia, your risk of tooth decay goes up. Even though your saliva flow is lower when you’re sleeping, having a mouth that’s too dry will allow bacteria to flourish.

Absolutely, you can wear a mouthguard with a CPAP! In fact, most sleep physicians recommend using the two jointly before giving up on your CPAP altogether. However, if you’re someone who is CPAP intolerant and looking for an alternative sleep apnea treatment, then an oral appliance could be the solution that you’re looking for.

Since a CPAP physically forces air into your lungs, it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a sleep mouthguard. In fact, an oral appliance might actually help your CPAP to work better because there aren’t physical tissues interfering with your airflow. It’s the oral appliance’s job to keep your lower jaw slightly forward, preventing blockage at the back of your throat. If you were to wear the mouthguard without a CPAP, you would be breathing naturally as opposed to having positive air pressure physically pushing the oxygen into your body.

Many people find that if they can’t sleep with a CPAP machine (due to their size and noise) they’re able to switch to a dental appliance instead. But never stop using your CPAP without first consulting with your physician and sleep dentist.

The cost of a mouthguard for sleep apnea is less than the price of a CPAP machine. Plus, it’s smaller and more discrete to use! There aren’t extra tubes or machines to replace/maintain. Rather, all that’s involved is a mouthpiece that you take in and out like a typical mouthguard. Most people are surprised to learn that dental sleep appliances are sometimes covered by their medical insurance. So, if you think the only way to afford sleep apnea treatment is to get a CPAP machine, you might find it’s more affordable and convenient to wear a dental mouthguard instead!

But not all dental mouthpieces work for treating sleep apnea. Only mandibular advancement devices specifically designed for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are appropriate. During your initial consultation, our sleep dentistry office can provide you with an estimated cost of your sleep appliance. Just be sure to bring a copy of your insurance card(s)!

In a roundabout way, yes, because sleep apnea can drastically increase your risk of suffering from a heart attack. Since sleep apnea tends to make your blood pressure go up, it interferes with your cardiovascular health. Stroke and cardiovascular attacks are common in people with sleep apnea, because of the “overtime” their body is working to try to stay healthy.

So, even if sleep apnea doesn’t technically take your life, it can jeopardize it. Someone might not have the heart problems that they do if it weren’t for their sleeping disorder. Ultimately, their sleep apnea condition could be what pushes their body over the edge towards a heart attack or stroke. When that’s the case, life expectancy is significantly decreased. If sleep apnea, snoring, high blood pressure, or heart disease runs in your family, you owe it to yourself to get screened for a sleeping disorder!

Tooth decay (cavities) forms when acids and bacteria set on your teeth for an extended period of time. One of the reasons why our dentists stress brushing and flossing before bed is because your mouth tends to be drier when you’re sleeping. A dry mouth can significantly raise your chances of getting more cavities compared to people who have healthy saliva flow.

When you add sleep apnea and CPAP use into the equation, there’s an even higher risk of battling dry mouth. Since CPAP forces air through your nose and mouth and into your lungs, there’s more of a chance that you’ll be mouth breathing and drying out your oral tissues.

Over time, the consistent mouth breathing and dry mouth that CPAP users experience can multiply their risk of getting cavities. The best solution is to work with our dentist to reduce xerostomia, supplement with appropriate dental products (such as fluoride) and possibly consider a CPAP alternative, such as a mandibular advancement sleep appliance. With a sleep mouthguard, you can breathe through your nose instead of drying out your mouth.

The best sleep mouthguard is one that’s made by a dentist who is trained in oral sleep appliance therapy — in particular, mandibular advancement techniques. These special sleep mouthguards guide your lower jaw in a slightly forward position. When that happens, there’s less of a chance of your tongue slipping back against the soft tissues like your tonsils and soft palate. Essentially, wearing a sleep mouthguard is a holistic solution for combatting obstructive sleep apnea.

An oral sleep appliance can only be made by a dental professional. Although your physician or pulmonologist can write a prescription for a dental appliance, you will need to have it created by your oral health provider. The process requires an impression of your teeth, as well as special adjustments based on the shape and size of your mouth.

Over the counter snore guards don’t provide the same accuracy, comfort, or results as a sleep mouthguard made by a dentist. So, if you’re considering trying an oral appliance of any sort, you’ll need to speak with a dentist who is able to work closely with your sleep physician.

Oral appliances work by gently moving your jaw forward. As a result, this slight change in jaw positioning increases the size of your upper airway, allowing air to pass through and prevent the muscles in your throat from over-relaxing and closing up.

Since oral appliances reduce airway instability, they often work to curb snoring as well. Oral appliances are most effective for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

The internet sells just about everything, including “boil and bite” oral appliances you can make at home. These over-the-counter, or over-the-internet, devices are not usually effective for sleep apnea patients. Plus, they can worsen the problem or create an entirely new problem. Your oral appliance should be approved by your dentist, sleep physician, or primary care doctor.

About The Caring Dentists of Macleod Trail Dental

Our dentists use their expertise in general and cosmetic dentistry to provide the best, most caring care possible. They love answering dental questions and finding the right solutions for all of our patients. If you need a new dentist in SW Calgary that you can trust, Macleod Trail Dental is here to help!

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