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Dangers of sleep apnea alleviated by Southwest Las Vegas Dentist

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Snoring interrupts your sleep and that of your housemates. It can also be a sign of a much more serious problem called sleep apnea. Southwest Las Vegas dentist, Christopher Lim, has answers about sleep apnea that may surprise you.

What is sleep apnea?

Snoring is caused by vibration of the soft tissues at the back of the throat. Most people snore at times, such as when they have a head cold. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is often characterized by chronic snoring, but the condition is more deeply rooted.

As the person falls asleep, the jaw and neck relax and the airway is blocked or partially blocked. Breathing becomes shallow or pauses completely for a few seconds or minutes. The body senses a lack of oxygen, triggering a surge of adrenalin. The sleeper jerks, snorts, or chokes to wakefulness. The cycle repeats as many as 30 times per hour preventing deep, restorative sleep.

What are the dangers of sleep apnea?

Your body and mind need full rest for cellular renewal. OSA is linked to these primary health problems:
  • High blood pressure. Waking frequently causes low blood-oxygen levels and accelerates hormonal systems resulting in high blood pressure.
  • Heart disease. Incidence of heart attacks at night is higher in those who suffer OSA. Stroke and irregular heartbeat are also associated with OSA, since it's difficult for the brain to regulate blood flow during periods of restricted oxygen.
  • Diabetes. It is estimated that about 80 percent of diabetics have some level of OSA, possibly because sleep deprivation causes insulin resistance.
  • Weight gain. OSA inhibits the body's endocrine systems, causing cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. Sleep deprivation also slows metabolisms.
  • Acid reflux and asthma. While we don't yet fully understand the link, acid reflux and persistent heartburn are common complaints, and those who get effective OSA treatment often have fewer asthma attacks.
  • Car accidents. People with OSA are groggy. They are about five times more likely to have traffic accidents than normal sleepers.
How can a dentist help?

Once a physician has confirmed a diagnosis of sleep apnea, you may be prescribed CPAP therapy. This machine keeps the airway open during sleep with air pressure. The system works – when used. However, many patients don't adapt easily to the bulky equipment, noise, or face mask.

An oral appliance is a small, discreet device worn in the mouth. It is custom fitted to hold the jaw open and slightly forward, maintaining airflow for easy breathing and deep sleep. It also alleviates snoring. For severe cases of OSA, an oral appliance can be used in conjunction with CPAP.

Call 702-666-8584 for an appointment with the Southwest Las Vegas dentist who cares about your smile, your sleep, and your health, Dr. Christopher Lim at Hillside Dental.