What is Sleep Apnea?

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Sleep apnea is a common disorder where you pause breathing or your breathing becomes unhealthily shallow while you sleep. These periods can range from several seconds to over a minute, and your body doesn’t get the vital oxygen it needs. This causes your body to have a panicked reaction – your heart races and your adrenaline speeds up – and you can wake up or have restless sleep. These sudden sleep disruptions can occur dozens of times every hour or all night long.

Often patients who suffer from sleep apnea will snore or make choking or gasping sounds while sleeping. Many patients of Dr. Chris Chui are not aware they have sleep apnea – but they endure the painful symptoms, and feel the effects on their happiness and quality of life.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea sufferers usually have no recollection of choking or waking up multiple times every hour. Because your heart accelerates dozens to hundreds of times each night, and because you are unable to return to deep and rejuvenating sleep, you wake up exhausted. You need sleep to form long-term memories and focus your mind; a lack of sleep disrupts your mental clarity. Physical and mental exhaustion manifests in several negative ways; when screening for this affliction, Mountain View Sleep Apnea Dentist Dr. Chris Chui and his professional staff at Smiles Dental Care look for the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness in the morning
  • Desire or need to take a nap mid-day
  • Dozing off any time before bedtime
  • Ongoing physical fatigue
  • Chronic depression
  • Regular irritability
  • Poor concentration and ADHD behavior
  • Frequent memory lapses
  • Difficulty remembering simple facts or schedules
  • Sexual dysfunction or libido loss
  • Weight gain
  • Increased incidents of illness
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Snoring or audibly choking at night

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. For a more detailed discussion and sleep apnea screening, please contact Mountain View Sleep Apnea Dentist Dr. Chris Chui at Smiles Dental Care today (650) 563-1180.

Sleep Apnea Consequences

In addition to wrecking your quality of life and mental well-being, unchecked sleep apnea can take a severe toll on your body. Sleep apnea repeatedly accelerates your heart when you should be resting. This can ruin your cardiovascular system and metabolism, leading to the following serious or fatal medical conditions:

  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart Arrhythmia
  • Car crashes

Sleep apnea sufferers are up to 700% more likely to have an automobile accident than drunk drivers. Some studies suggest that patients suffering from sleep apnea for a decade or more will lose 20% to 50% of their natural lifespans. Mountain View sleep apnea dentist Dr. Chris Chui treats this condition very seriously and requests you call for a sleep apnea consultation if you suspect you are at risk. Please contact Smiles Dental Care today to learn more about our simple sleep apnea screening and dental treatment for sleep apnea (650) 563-1180.

Sleep Apnea Causes

Sleep apnea is almost always caused by a physical blockage of your airway, which is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This occurs when the soft tissue in your throat becomes loose or larger and repeatedly flops back to block your airways. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids take up airways space and can contribute to sleep apnea. Increased weight also increases the weight in you cheeks and neck, which can drive your jaw back and block your airway. An especially narrow palate, which is often genetic or a result of orthodontic treatment, can leave little room for the tongue, consequently driving it back into the airway during sleep. A few sleep apnea sufferers may simply be born with an abnormally small airway. Much more rare is Central Sleep Apnea, in which your brain does not always send proper signals to your muscles that control breathing. Regardless of the root cause of obstructive sleep apnea, an oral appliance created by Mountain View sleep apnea dentist Dr. Chris Chui can treat it by opening the airway and allowing for natural and necessary airflow.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Sleep apnea can affect anybody of any age. The National Sleep Foundation estimates 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and this includes children. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine puts this number at 25 million. It’s difficult to say what percent of people have sleep apnea, because about 90% of sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed. Mountain View sleep apnea dentist Dr. Chris Chui is trying to reverse this trend, as are many sleep apnea trained dentists nationwide, but it’s a big problem to tackle. If any of the following apply to you, you may be at increased risk of sleep apnea:

  • Excess weight, as fat deposits in your cheeks can exert further pressure on your jaw to slide back and obstruct your airway
  • Neck circumference greater than 17 inches (43cm), which exerts more weight on your jaw and airway
  • Use of alcohol or sedatives, which overly relax your neck muscles and allow them to more easily collapse into your airway
  • Smoking, which narrows the throat and increases the inflammation and fluid retention within (smokers are 300% more likely to have sleep apnea)
  • Naturally narrow airway, due to genetics or the presence of large tonsils and adenoids (which can easily be removed)
  • Old age, as our tissue becomes looser with age and more likely so slip back into our airway
  • Being male, as men are twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea compared to women

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Traditionally sleep apnea has been treated with a C-PAP. This device firmly wraps around your nose, mouth, and chin (similar to a pilot mask), and forces air down your throat as you sleep. This positive air pressure inflates and opens your airway. It also makes many patients feel claustrophobic and unable to sleep. Furthermore, it’s difficult to have a normal relationship sleeping next to somebody while wearing a full face mask while hooked to a noisy air compressor.

Mountain View sleep apnea dentist Dr. Chris Chui treat obstructive sleep apnea with an oral appliance. This bio-compatible, FDA-approved, clinically tested device snaps on to your upper and lower teeth and advances your jaw forward. Try to make a snoring sound. Now push your jaw far forward and try to make it again. You see now how easily Mountain View sleep apnea dentist Dr. Chris Chui can treat sleep apnea! Before beginning sleep apnea treatment at Smiles Dental Care, we first need a recent sleep study and a simple in-office evaluation.

Learn more about sleep apnea treatments when you visit Smiles Dental Care. Call Mountain View sleep apnea dentist Dr. Chris Chui at (650) 563-1180 to schedule a consultation today!