Your Snore is an Alarm for Help

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious problem in the United States. It is a type of sleep-disordered breathing that can cause many health issues. Lack of sleep and reduced oxygen levels in the body can lead to chronic diseases and even death. People with sleep apnea often have trouble staying awake during the day and may experience health problems due to low oxygen levels in their blood.

As people get older, they tend to sleep less each night. Research shows that for every ten years of life, individuals sleep around 28 minutes less per day. This means that by the time someone reaches the age of ninety, they will only sleep an average of four hours each night.

It is commonly believed that older people require less sleep, but is this really true or could the decrease in sleep be a health risk instead of a normal occurrence? Factors such as hormonal imbalances, prostate issues, chronic pain, medications, and insomnia all contribute to the sleep problems experienced by many individuals today. The statistics are concerning, with one in three people experiencing a heart attack in their lifetime and one in two developing diabetes by the age of eighty. I believe that these health issues can be traced back to a single underlying problem—sleep-disordered breathing.

Dentists who specialize in oral medicine can now help with sleep problems like sleep apnea and snoring using special mouth devices. These dentists are trained to play a big role in this field.

Modern Sleep Dentistry

I have been helping patients with sleep-related breathing issues for a long time as part of the holistic, biological services provided by my dental practice, the Julian Center for Comprehensive Dentistry.

When I became a dentist in 1980, I practiced traditional dentistry like most others in my field. After three years of opening my first practice, I started learning more about the dangers of mercury toxicity and how putting mercury amalgam fillings in patients’ mouths was actually harmful. This made me shift towards a more holistic approach to dentistry before eventually selling my first practice in the late 1980s.

After opening a new dental practice that focused on treating problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), snoring, sleep apnea, and orthodontics, I decided to buy back my old practice and combine it with my current location in Ellicott City, Maryland. This allowed me to return to a more comprehensive and holistic approach to general dental care.

In the past, there wasn’t a clear understanding of how dentists could help with sleep apnea, so medical insurance companies didn’t cover its treatment. Sleep apnea was seen as a condition that only specialized medical sleep doctors could diagnose and treat. Nowadays, I can’t diagnose sleep apnea myself, but I can recommend sleep studies and provide treatment once it has been diagnosed by a certified physician. To ensure that patients receive comprehensive care, I have formed partnerships with certified physicians who diagnose sleep apnea based on the results of home sleep studies conducted at our practice. This allows me to continue treating patients after they have received a medical diagnosis.

I was one of the first people to offer treatment for TMD and sleep apnea in the early 1990s. Even today, I continue to be at the forefront of helping patients with sleep-breathing problems. Because of my many years of experience in treating sleep-disordered breathing, snoring, and sleep apnea, I have an advantage in treating a health condition that is covered by medical insurance and accepted by medical professionals.

Dentists can provide treatments for different levels of sleep apnea, such as mild, moderate, or severe. These treatments include oral appliances and NightLase™ Therapy. However, dentists are not allowed to prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. For those who cannot tolerate CPAP, there are dental options available. Some people may be unable or unwilling to wear the CPAP device due to reasons like claustrophobia, being newly married, cleaning difficulties, traveling, etcetera. Unfortunately, many people do not comply with wearing the CPAP as prescribed, with only 30-40 percent of users being compliant. This is a problem because the CPAP has a high success rate but does not fully solve the root cause like dental solutions can. Additionally, the CPAP can cause other airway problems and reduce overall airway space by putting pressure on the mid-face as well as drying out the throat.

As shown in the following table, Sleep Disordered Breathing covers a wide range of conditions, from non-sleepy snoring and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) to Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Dentists play a vital role in treating sleep apnea and other related issues. They are the only professionals qualified to assess and address problems with breathing during sleep using special oral appliances. These appliances can also assist individuals who snore, suffer from teeth grinding, or experience upper airway resistance due to blockages in their air passages. Dentists have a unique ability to make a significant impact on the widespread problem of sleep disturbances affecting people today.

Dentists are the only health professionals
qualified to evaluate and treat sleep-disordered
breathing issues using intraoral appliances.

The mouthguards sold in stores and online are not the same as the ones made by dentists. It is dangerous to use these store-bought mouthguards to treat snoring because they only hide the symptoms without solving the real problem. They might stop the snoring, but they can actually cause a more serious health issue. By getting rid of the snoring noise, they don’t address the underlying airway blockage, which can lead to a sudden health problem like a heart attack. Without the snoring to wake you up, your bed partner may not realize that you’re not breathing properly, unless you start gasping for air. Also, OTC appliances and dentist fabricated mouth guards can aggravate an obstructed airway.

NightLase is a successful treatment for snoring. It is a laser therapy that does not harm the skin and does not leave any scars. This treatment helps to improve the airway during the day, even without wearing any oral appliances. It is a non-invasive and non-traumatic solution that does not require the patient to follow any specific instructions. NightLase is also nonablative, meaning that it does not cause injury to the palatal mucosa.

At the Julian Center, we provide more than just oral appliances or NightLase treatments. Our comprehensive solutions cater to the well-being of your body, mind, and spirit. In future articles, I will explain in more detail what this entails.

I wrote this article to tell you how serious sleep-disordered breathing is and to talk about the different treatments that oral physicians can provide for sleep apnea. I want to teach you about the important role that oral physicians play in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. So, if you or someone you know snores, it could be a sign of sleep apnea, and you should call an oral physician right away.

In the upcoming articles, I will tell you about the reasons behind sleep problems, like when the infants’ upper and lower jaws don’t grow properly because of not eating foods that require chewing or having a tongue tie. Also, not breastfeeding enough or stopping too soon can cause these issues. These early development problems can lead to weak muscles, bad jaw growth, crowded teeth, trouble swallowing, tongue in the wrong position, and grinding teeth. All of these dental problems can last for a long time and cause lots of pain and create airway issues later on as an adult.

Sleep-disordered breathing can cause medical problems like heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety, and early dementia.

Sleep apnea leads to a lack of oxygen for the body’s organs. It doesn’t matter how well you eat, exercise, meditate, or drink water. The air you breathe is also irrelevant if you’re not getting enough oxygen.

Sleep apnea has caused fatalities, with some individuals choking or dying in their sleep. This series of articles is intended for those who have been informed of their loud snoring or are experiencing sleep disturbances. Parents with children or teenagers facing challenges such as ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, bed-wetting, social issues, or other childhood disabilities that may be linked to sleep disorders will also find these articles beneficial. Additionally, if your partner’s snoring is preventing you from getting adequate rest, it is essential to take action for both your spouse’s and your own well-being.

If you find yourself falling asleep while driving or watching TV, or if you struggle to get through the day, it could be a sign of a serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea. If left untreated, this condition can have long-term effects on your health. Instead of relying on sleeping pills, which can have negative side effects and prevent deep, restful sleep, there may be another solution, such as the new options available at the Julian Center including myofunctional therapy, EPAP, and eXciteOSA.

Keep reading this series of articles to find out more!

Next Article: Part 2-Unlocking Optimum Health

Return to 10 Part Compilation




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