Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea treatment tempe az

When most people think about dentistry, they think of teeth — and, for the most part, they’re right. What many may not realize, though, is like that dentists like Dr. Mason Konkle, Dr. Jennifer Konkle, and Dr. Hyrum Hatch at Hatch Family Dentistry deal with more than just tooth problems. Their job is to look at the oral system as a whole. That means that we can help you find a solution to a problem you might not have known you have: sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of sleeping disorder in which the patient’s breathing patterns become irregular while sleeping. What does this mean? A patient’s breathing can become shallow or even stop entirely during the night, sometimes up to hundreds of times each night. As you can imagine, that potential lack of oxygen can be very dangerous, and presents health effects like the ones listed below.

Why does this happen? Sleep apnea is physically caused by the obstruction of a person’s airways while sleeping. Because this cause is so generic, anyone, young or old, male or female, can experience sleep apnea. There are some general trends, though:

  • The likelihood of experiencing sleep apnea grows with age;
  • Men are more likely to experience sleep apnea than women;
  • People who are overweight are more likely to experience sleep apnea;
  • Patients related to someone with sleep apnea are more likely to experience similar symptoms;
  • Patients (especially children) with large tonsils are more likely to experience sleep apnea.

Estimates differ, but the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine approximates that about 25 million people in the U.S. experience sleep apnea of some form.

What health problems are associated with sleep apnea?

In general, sleep apnea is bad for the body simply because it means that the oxygen flow into the body is irregular. Quite understandably, that’s problematic for almost every part of the body since your body depends on oxygen to continue running. More specifically, though, sleep apnea could increase the likelihood of a number of health issues, including:

  • Irregular heartbeat: Your body reacts to a lack of normal oxygen intakes by trying to draw in more air, making the heart and lungs work harder and often causing you to suddenly wake up. Irregular heartbeat is often a result of that jerking motion as your body suddenly repressurizes itself.
  • Heart attack/heart failure: For similar reasons, heart attack and heart failure are also possible if your body is unable to jumpstart its respiratory process. These are typically only risky in the worst case scenarios though.
  • Stroke: As you probably know, strokes are caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. If your body ceases to breathe normally, it’s very possible for this to eventually contribute to stroke.
  • High blood pressure: The dramatic changes in oxygen levels could have ripple effects throughout the body, even causing symptoms of high blood pressure.
  • Headaches: Your body’s start-stop motions could also induce headaches which, although less severe than some of the other side effects, are far more common.
  • Poor sleep: Finally, sleep apnea can cause poor sleep habits to emerge. As mentioned above, when the body tries to take in more air, it might cause the patient to awaken suddenly, interrupting the sleep cycle.

How can my dentist help me solve my sleep apnea problems?

sleep apnea treatment in tempe az

So, how can a dentist solve sleep apnea? Rather than using invasive procedures like surgery or breathing devices, dentists like Drs. Konkle and Dr. Hatch deal with sleep apnea in a very simple way by opening up the patient’s airways. Because sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the air a person breathes in, changing how that person breathes just enough to keep the airways open can do wonders in preventing the effects of sleep apnea.

This is done through a very simple device: a retainer-like mouthguard that changes the positioning of a person’s jaw. By pushing the lower jaw slightly outward, the mouthguard can open up a patient’s airways, helping him or her breathe more easily while sleeping and preventing the symptoms and effects of sleep apnea from occurring.

If you think that you or someone you love is experiencing sleep apnea and if you want to try out a specially designed mouthguard, make an appointment to talk to one of our dentists at Hatch Family Dentistry in Tempe for more information.

Just call (480) 838-3073 or visit our website to set up an appointment today!