It is now estimated that 26% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 years have sleep apnea. It is thought that up to 6% of children have the sleep disorder.
With sleep apnea impacting the lives of an estimated 30 million people in the U.S., only 6 million have been diagnosed with the condition, a disturbing imbalance.
In adults, the most common cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is excess weight and obesity, which is associated with the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. Up to 94% of people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea snore, a connection that is often overlooked.
Some tell-tale signs of OSA are:
• Loud snoring: Snoring is often the first indication that someone has sleep apnea, especially due to airway obstruction.
• Pauses in breathing: This is often accompanied by the feeling of rousing from gasping for air.
• Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue: The brain responds to each period of apnea by waking the individual so a breath can be taken. When it happens repeatedly, the effects of sleep deprivation begin to emerge. Hence, the feeling of “brain fog.”
The health problems associated with sleep apnea are severe. If you have sleep apnea, you are:
• 86% more likely to have a stroke
• 71% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease
• 48% more likely to develop coronary heart disease
Studies of obstructive sleep apnea show an increase in the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and depression. Findings from new studies also emphasize the negative effects of sleep apnea on brain and heart health. With the ever-rising rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, coupled with the aging American population, OSA is taking a front seat in studies.
As a neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Ban Barbat has devoted her skill set to include support to patients who are experiencing OSA symptoms.
Cheryl, now a patient of Dr. Barbat’s, first came to the Shelby Township dental office upon the recommendation of one of Dr. Barbat’s dental technicians. Cheryl had not been content with her current dentist but found she was “immediately impressed” with Dr. Barbat’s office.
Having gone through triple-bypass surgery, Cheryl had already begun to take charge of her own health. Through lots of research, she was inspired to begin a vegan diet. This eventually evolved into the start of a business offering pre-made vegan dishes.
With her whole-health commitment, Cheryl discussed the findings of a prior sleep study with Dr. Barbat. An updated study was recommended; however, when sleep apnea was revealed, Cheryl knew she wanted an alternative to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).
Only 30 to 60% of people who are prescribed CPAP devices use their machine regularly as prescribed. The range is so wide because different age groups have such variations in adherence (51.3% in females ages 18 – 30 to 80.6% in males ages 71 – 80). Too, usage is typically lower on weekends and for those who travel.
Having the unique contours of Cheryl’s oral structure clearly mapped out through cone beam images, Dr. Barbat created a customer-designed oral appliance to provide Cheryl with an effective yet comfortable way to restore air intake during sleep.
Oral appliances for sleep apnea are fitted to the upper and lower part of the patient’s teeth. It gently pulls the lower jaw forward when it’s in the mouth. It is periodically monitored for the alignment of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and teeth.
Oral appliance therapy also helps to stiffen the muscles in the back of the throat and upper airway, reducing the tendency to collapse. The devices, which are FDA approved, are effective for snoring and most cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Cheryl noticed a “big change” from the beginning. “I now wake up energized, my acuity has increased, and I’ve lost 15 pounds,” Cheryl shares. She also likes that she can simply carry her appliance in her purse when traveling.
Cheryl admits it took her about a week to get used to having something in her mouth at night. However, she was appreciative that the staff was so responsive to her questions. “I’d call and they’d call me right back,” she shares. She was also grateful for the Sleep Tips that were provided. These gave her helpful tips for a good night’s sleep in addition to wearing her new appliance.
Cheryl also shared insight on why many people fail to go forward with the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. “Most people won’t do what insurance won’t pay for,” she states. Unfortunately, this may be contributing to a percentage of Americans getting insufficient sleep and higher risk of serious (and even deadly) health problems.
If you (or someone you love) have symptoms of sleep apnea or have had a sleep study done, a CPAP device is not your only option (in many cases). You are invited to arrange a free consultation by tapping here or schedule by calling 586-739-2155.
You may wish to begin with a brief video tour: DrBarbatDentalOffice