It's Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Oct 03, 2022

It's Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Snoring isn’t always just an innocent by-product of snoozing. It can also be a primary indicator of a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is a potentially dangerous condition with the ability to cause multiple health issues.

While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, snoring is a key indicator that you have a form of the condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It’s thought that as many as 22 million Americans have moderate or severe OSA. 

Yet, over three-quarters of OSA cases may be undiagnosed. The most common breathing disorder related to sleep, OSA creates a cycle where your breathing stops and restarts dozens of times each night, destroying your normal sleep cycle. 

You may not know the team at Los Altos Family Smiles is ready to help when you’ve been diagnosed with OSA. We can make custom-designed night guards for you that maintain healthy sleep breathing. Here’s why you should consider an oral appliance to avoid the potential health risks associated with OSA. 

Signs of OSA

If you’ve been feeling tired in the daytime even though it seems you had enough sleep the night before, it could be a sign you’ve developed a sleep disorder, and OSA is the most likely reason. You may see other symptoms too, including: 

  • Loud snoring at night that are interspersed with periods of silence
  • A partner may notice you stop and restart breathing while asleep
  • You may wake suddenly, feeling out of breath
  • Waking with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Waking with a headache
  • Increased daytime sleepiness
  • Mood changes including irritability or depression
  • Reduced sex drive

While our dentists can’t officially diagnose OSA, some symptoms of sleep disorders show in your mouth. Evidence of bruxism, or tooth grinding, may be a sign you also have OSA. This can also lead to cavities and gum disease. It’s possible that your dentist might recommend you talk to your primary physician if they discover potential OSA symptoms. It may not, however, be our final involvement with your condition. 

The dangers of sleep apnea

Being tired during the day may be a problem if your job involves potentially risky tasks such as operating heavy equipment. Beyond your alertness, however, there are behind-the-scenes medical effects of OSA. 

Untreated OSA puts your heart health at risk. Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your body change when you’re experiencing OSA. This can lead to arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. 

Oral appliances for OSA

There are several treatment options for OSA. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is generally regarded as the best treatment, particularly when you suffer from severe OSA. Some patients don’t tolerate CPAP well, though, or they have less aggressive OSA symptoms. In that case, an oral appliance may be the answer. 

Resembling an athletic mouth guard, your custom appliance holds your mouth in a position that keeps your airway open when your face and mouth relax in sleep. This prevents the tissue collapse that causes snoring and OSA. 

Contact our office by phone or online to schedule an OSA consultation once you’ve been diagnosed. It’s the best way to obtain a personalized night guard that’s comfortable to wear while easing your OSA symptoms and abating the associated health risks. Make your appointment today.