Sleep Apnea, Snoring, and Dentistry
There is a rapidly growing area of dentistry concerned with treating sleep apnea and snoring. There’s an important reason for this, too….people who snore and/or experience sleep apnea on a regular basis are at SIGNIFICANTLY higher risk of certain health issues. I am going to relate a very personal story that I hope will help drive the point home, as well as give you a link to a website that will provide you with FAR more detail than I can provide in this blog.
My dad turned 63 in March ’08. Up until that time, he had always been a very healthy individual with no particular health problems. He regularly traveled the world for his job and had been doing so for many years; he and my mom enjoyed an active life, involved with their church and the arts. The only problem that had plagued him for a couple years was a nagging cough that simply would not resolve, no matter what he took. Not just a nagging little cough, but a deep, powerful, and often painful cough that would sap his energy, leaving him drained.
(To interject a bit of dental history: I’d been telling my dad for a number of years that he clearly has a history of grinding his teeth, and coupled with the fact that he had always been an EXTREMELY LOUD SNORER (to the point my mom often kicked him out of bed or slept in another room herself), I’d also recommended he get a sleep study done. With his travel and work schedule, though, it had just never quite worked out.)
Well, in early 2008 he’d finally had enough of the cough and went to see a pulmonologist. During a routine visit to see how well a certain medication was working, they noted that his heart rate was at an alarming 140 beats per minute!! Naturally, they immediately sent him to the hospital! He ended up staying for several days for evaluation.
It ended up taking many months of testing, trying several medications, and undergoing several procedures for his heart and to drain some disgusting and nasty fluid, before they finally got things under control. One of the most crucial tests of all, though, was a sleep study. Remarkably, his sleep apnea was SO BAD that the doctors woke him up halfway through the night to put him on a CPAP machine.
Long story short: the doctors determined that his sleep apnea was one of the largest contributing factors to his heart problems, which had led to the lung problems. Since he started using a CPAP machine to help him breathe at night, he is a different man. Dad says that he now wakes up and feels amazingly well; he actually feels like he slept well! He no longer has the rapid heartbeat; his lungs are no longer filling with awful fluids; he sleeps well; my Mom sleeps well; and he’s healthy again!
If you know that you snore loudly; if you’re a man and your neck size is 16.5 or greater; if you often wake yourself up with “snorts” at night; if you always wake up and feel you’ve slept poorly no matter how many hours you were in bed……..these are some of the risk factors/warning signs that should tell you to see your doctor and your dentist.
I’ll talk more about treatments and how dentists can help in the future, but for now, here’s a link you should follow to learn a lot more — QUITE LITERALLY, THIS COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE, AS IT HAS MY DAD’S. DON’T TAKE A CHANCE: