Many people with sleep apnea suspect they may have problems with breathing at night, but they haven’t sought out treatment.
Why do so many people avoid that sleep apnea diagnosis? You can probably guess the answer. Patients don’t want to do a sleep study, or they dread the idea of having a CPAP machine to wear before drifting off to sleep each night. On top of that, sleep apnea just doesn’t feel like a health problem that’s “urgent.”
This was true for Norge Dental Center patient Dave Bolt. He was feeling exhausted during the day, even after a full night’s sleep. He finally decided to get evaluated.
“I knew it was sleep apnea, and I wasn’t really surprised,” said patient Dave Bolt. “My wife had mentioned that I’d sometimes be gasping at night. I know that a lot of people aren’t doing anything because they don’t want a CPAP mask, but there are other options.”
Like Dave, most people delay evaluation and treatment and just think – I’ll get to it later.
Meanwhile, your body is gasping for breath every night. It’s the reason you feel tired all the time. You don’t feel it’s urgent, but the long-term effects start to pile up. Sleep apnea leads to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, memory problems, headaches and other health issues.
We’re not talking about the consequences of sleep apnea to scare you. We’re talking about it because so many patients find that it’s very easy to address once you have a diagnosis. And treatment doesn’t have to involve a CPAP machine.Here’s the process you can follow to go from ignoring the problem to treating it:
- See your primary care physician to ask about sleep apnea. If it’s possible you have it, you may be asked to do an overnight sleep study – or you could be sent home with an at-home tool to measure your breath/heart rate.
- With a sleep apnea diagnosis, make an appointment at Norge Dental Center so we can fit you with the best oral appliance for you. We’ll do a thorough evaluation, a measurement of your jaw, and review your options. Often we can eliminate the need for a clunky CPAP machine.
- In some cases, we make a mold of your teeth and jaw to custom-fit a two-piece acrylic appliance that allows airflow during sleep.
- Once you begin using your oral apnea appliance, you’ll get more restful sleep every night.
- You will then bring your sleep apnea appliance to your twice-yearly dental appointment, so we can confirm the integrity of the appliance and make sure it’s still working for you.
If you’ve been looking for the sign to finally seek a professional’s advice on sleep apnea, here it is. It’s time to ask your doctor and dentist about sleep apnea assessment and treatment.
Signs that you have sleep apnea may include snoring, gasping for air, exhaustion during the day, being overweight or using the bathroom frequently at night. Keep in mind you don’t have to have all of these, and they are just a few indicators that you should be evaluated. (Check out our blog post for more detail on those signs and symptoms of sleep apnea)
How did Dave’s treatment go? Dave really wanted to avoid a CPAP machine, so he was fitted for a custom apnea appliance. After taking home a portable sleep monitor, he found it worked great for him and his breathing and sleep quality improved. He began feeling energized again, and he greatly prefers the non-CPAP options provided to him at Norge Dental Center. The apnea appliance has been easy to travel with – and it’s finally stopped his once-legendary snoring.
Read more about Dave Bolt’s story here.