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Learn More about Sleep Disorders

Adult Sleep Disorders and Sleep Therapy

Facts about Sleep Disorders:

  • 1/4 of the U.S. population suffer from sleep disorders.
  • 40 million individuals are chronic sufferers.
  • Less than 10% have been diagnosed or treated to date.
  • More than 40% of adults over 40 snore (87 million Americans).

Why is Sleep so Important?

Let’s first consider why getting good sleep is so important. Sleep is critical to your overall health, as the light and dark cycles turn hormone production on and off and activate the immune system. Nature dictates that we sleep during the dark and are awake during the light of day to optimize our systems. Man first extended the light of day using firelight, then electricity. Now people are out of sync with nature, and it has taken a serious toll on our health. People are sick, in part, because they are tired!

Light cycles drive internal systems in all animals, and humans are no different. Not only are hormones and immune systems impacted by lack of adequate sleep but so are our regular functions such as eating, etc. As a result, sleeping controls eating and stress, eating and stress in turn control reproduction, and all these together control aging. So in the end, not enough sleep has the ability to increase obesity, hunger, impotence, hypertension, and cancer.

Why Do We Fight Nature?

Nature would have us sleep 4370 hours out of a possible 8760. Today we might sleep 2555. In 1970, Americans devoted 27 hours/week to leisure. Today we might devote 15 hours/week. Bottom line, all work, no play, and no sleep have made Americans very sick.

What is Sleep Deprivation and Apnea?

A leading cause of sleep deprivation is sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Each episode, called an apnea, lasts long enough so that one or more breaths are missed, and such episodes occur repeatedly throughout sleep. This can either lead to wakefulness or feeling unrested and unrefreshed when the alarm clock goes off.

There are two types of sleep apnea: Central (neurological) and Obstructive (blocked airway). A dentist can only treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The pathology of snoring is the same for OSA, but not all people who snore have sleep apnea, although it is the most noticeable symptom. The percentage that a person snores is directly related to the prevalence of coronary disease. In other words, the more one snores, the greater the risk for stroke.

How Can My Airway Be Blocked?

Reasons for airway obstruction leading to OSA, include: large tonsils, underdeveloped upper jaw, tongue piercing, obesity, low palate, restricted tongue, craniofacial anomalies, and medications. Symptoms such as morning headaches, GERD, bruxism (grinding/clenching teeth), waking unrested, using OTC sleep aides, sore throat, and TMJ pain are all associated with sleep disorders. Besides macrotrauma (accidents), sleep disorders are the primary cause of TMD.

Can Children Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is not just an adult issue. Many children suffer and are unable to express themselves. It is critical to diagnose airway obstruction in children for many reasons. Perhaps the most important being that if they don’t sleep, children don’t secrete growth hormone, which can impair development. These children are also likely to have daytime cognitive and behavioral problems, including the inability to focus, aggression, and hyperactivity, all of which can lead to problems at school.

What Should I do if I suspect I have Sleep Apnea?

If you suspect that you have a sleep disorder, a sleep study is the tool used for a diagnosis. A sleep study can be done overnight in a clinic or as an at home sleep study. That being said, your medical insurance policy will dictate the type of study that is required. The American Sleep Association recognizes FDA approved Sleep Appliances as a first line therapy. Once the diagnosis from your medical doctor is confirmed as Sleep Apnea—Dr. Giordano can help. He will design a comfortable, removable oral appliance that will place the jaws in the best position for proper breathing, as well as, the most comfortable and healthy position for your Temporal Mandibular Joints (TMJs). These appliances are monitored by our take-home sleep study kit to ensure maximum benefit.

What is a CPAP?

In the past, the CPAP has been the only option given to patients as an effective treatment. It is still the preferred treatment for Severe OSA. However patient compliance for the CPAP is very low, as many people find it is loud and uncomfortable. If you are CPAP Intolerant (ie you can’t use a CPAP), you can still be fitted for a sleep appliance: doing something is better than doing nothing at all. In fact, we have found that for some patients who have severe OSA and use a CPAP in conjuction with an oral appliance, the treatment outcome significantly improves.

Oral appliances are now a great choice for those who suffer from snoring and/or have mild to moderate OSA and for those who are CPAP intolerant. If you think you suffer from OSA, call our office today and schedule an evaluation. It all boils down to this: Sleep well – Live healthier – Live longer!