What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that prevents the body from getting a sufficient amount of oxygen during sleep. During times of sleep, the sleep apnea victim or patient literally stops breathing for small periods of time, creating an extremely dangerous situation. Over 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and that figure includes women, men, and children though most of victims are older male adults. Sleep apnea is also known as obstructive sleep apnea and it’s the most common form. Throat blockage, mostly from the tongue or palate, is what gives obstructive sleep apnea its name – but it’s only one form. Two other forms are central sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea. 

Causes Of Sleep Apnea

There are several causes, however tongue or palate blockage is the main culprit. Basically, anything that prevents the lungs from getting enough air to the brain is at fault, thus almost all breathing problems have been blamed. From smoking and asthma to being overweight to snoring, sleep apnea is now thought to play a role in developing diabetes, heart attacks, and even death. 

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Most treatments for sleep apnea involve the CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure). This machine works to supply the body (lungs and brain) with enough oxygen while the patient is sleeping. Some machines use nasal masks that cover the mouth and nose to send air, while others use a tube-connected mouth or nose piece to deliver air. The idea with either method is to keep the airway open so that a patient gets sufficient air through regular breathing.

Since the CPAP machine is a medical device, it requires a prescription from a neurologist and a polysomnogram (sleep study) examination.

Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea, a CPAP machine may not be needed. Some people have found relieve through natural methods simply by losing weight, cutting out certain foods from a diet, reducing alcohol consumption, or even avoiding certain medications under the doctor’s advice. Others have found help from the intake of specific vitamins and minerals.

The best supplements to ask us about are the ones that stimulate circulation, reduce cholesterol, regulate metabolism. Ingesting vitamins and minerals without professional medical advice can be dangerous however since a recent report disclosed that taking too many supplements (or the wrong ones) can cause problems rather than relieve them.

Under no circumstance, should a patient take a sleeping aid as a way to thwart sleep apnea. Sleeping aids are designed to deepen sleep, while sleep apnea treatments are designed to increase airflow. Both treatments solve completely different problems.

If you are having trouble sleeping come in for a check up and we can diagnose what the problem is and get you the help you need to get the proper rest.

To help you prevent pain and tooth damage, we can provide you with a custom mouth guard.  If you are not sure if you grind your teeth during sleep, we can evaluate your mouth for signs of tooth damage due to bruxism and help get you the relief you seek.

Patients looking for a relaxing dental treatment can contact Sedation and Implant Dentists at (626) 872-6352.


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by Thomas Gonzales D.D.S.

Thomas Gonzales D.D.S. is a Los Angeles dentist with advanced training in dental implants. He has 46 years’ experience and is licensed in IV Sedation. Dr. Gonzales has taught courses worldwide on dental implants including for Noris Medical, Nobel, Neodent, LVI Global and Dental Implant Institute. He was a professor of IV Sedation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine and a neuromuscular dentistry instructor for Loma Linda Medical Center. He is a member of several prestigious organizations, including: the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, American Academy of Implant Dentistry, American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation and American Dental Society of Anesthesiology. Dr. Gonzales is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. He served in the United States Army and is a Vietnam War Veteran.

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