Eastern Shore Smile Solutions Blog

Posts for tag: sleep apnea

By Eastern Shore Smile Solutions
November 16, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: sleep apnea  

Your best night's sleep could be a phone call away. Eastern Shore Smile Solutions offers customized oral appliance therapy to counter one of today's most common sleep disorders: Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA affects millions of Americans, and loud snoring is just one symptom, says the National Sleep Foundation. Learn the details on sleep apnea and how Dr. Randall Hiers, Dr. Christopher Morrow and Dr. David Miller and Fu treat it in their Easton and Cambridge, MD offices.

What is sleep apnea?

People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing several times a night because their brains and respiratory systems don't communicate well (Central Sleep Apnea) or because their tongues block their airways as they sleep (Obstructive Sleep Apnea). OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea, and the most easily diagnosed and treated.

The dentists at Eastern Shore Smile Solutions take a special interest in OSA because they understand how it affects the day to day lives of their patients and how it can harm their health as well. Besides causing excessively loud and disruptive snoring, sleep apnea impacts systemic health with problems such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Impaired sexual function
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Memory impairment
  • Headaches
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Daytime fatigue

While most sleep apnea patients are middle-aged men (and older), most anyone can experience sleep apnea if they have a large neck circumference, have allergies, are overweight or sleep on their backs consistently.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

The biggest problem is oxygen deprivation. Loud snoring, restlessness, startling awake, gasping for air and breathing cessation (noticeable by a spouse, roommate or family member) are obvious signs, leading to consistently poor rest and a household that can't sleep well.

Individuals should report these symptoms to their primary care physicians who may refer them to a sleep doctor for special at-home or in-office sleep monitoring. With a definitive diagnosis of sleep apnea, patient and doctor can agree upon a treatment plan to correct sleep deficits and optimize health and wellness. This is where Eastern Shore Smile Solutions comes in.

Oral appliance therapy

Upon reviewing your physician's findings and your symptoms, your  Easton and Cambridge dentist may advise wearing a customized oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea. Comfortably positioning the lower jaw in a more forward position, a "snore guard" opens the airway and keeps it open for the entire night.

While some patients require CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machines to deliver oxygen to their airway, this bedside apparatus and mask can be too uncomfortable, noisy and claustrophobic for certain people. Oral appliance therapy can reduce or eliminate the need for CPAP and provide necessary symptom relief, and it's easily tolerated.

Find out more

You can manage sleep apnea. If your doctor would like you to explore oral appliance therapy, give Eastern Shore Smile Solutions a call. Talk to one of our expert dentists, and work out a treatment plan perfect for you. Phone (443) 205-4757.

By Eastern Shore Smile Solutions
July 25, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea  

Do you go to bed at a reasonable hour but still find it difficult to stay awake during the day? Daytime drowsiness is one of the often sleep apneaoverlooked signs of sleep apnea, a condition that affects more than 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Dr. Randall Hiers, Dr. Christopher Morrow and Dr. David Miller of Eastern Shore Smile Solutions in Easton and Cambridge, MD, share common signs of sleep apnea and discuss treatment options.

How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can cause a range of symptoms including:

  • Snoring: You may not realize that you snore, but if you live with other people, you've probably heard a few complaints. Loud snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea.
  • Breathing Pauses: Sleep apnea causes frequent breathing pauses that deprive your brain of oxygen. The pauses can last 20 seconds or longer and may occur as frequently as 30 times an hour. If you don't receive treatment for your condition, you may eventually develop high blood pressure, heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms or type 2 diabetes.
  • Gasping and Choking: Gasping and choking ends breathing pauses and restores normal breathing. If you wake up frequently during the night due to gasping and choking episodes, sleep apnea may be the reason.
  • Morning Headaches: People who have sleep apnea may wake up with headaches. As the day goes on, the headache usually goes away.
  • Fatigue-Related Issues: When you don't get enough sleep due to breathing pauses, you may feel very tired during the day. Fatigue can affect your driving and your ability to concentrate at work. Not surprisingly, chronic fatigue may also make you feel irritable.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Doctors offer recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat sleep apnea. The machine forces a constant flow of air into your throat, preventing it from closing while you sleep. Although the treatment is effective, it can be difficult to get used to wearing a CPAP mask. You or your spouse or significant other may also be disturbed by the noise of the machine.

We offer a more low-tech, but extremely effective alternative in our Easton and Cambridge offices. We can fit you with an oral appliance that moves your jaw forward and helps keep your airway open. The comfortable device fits over your teeth and is inserted just before you go to bed.

Treating your sleep apnea can help you avoid serious health issues. Call Dr. Hiers, Dr. Morrow and Dr. Miller of Eastern Shore Smile Solutions in Easton and Cambridge, MD, at (443) 205-4757 to schedule your appointment.

By Eastern Shore Smile Solutions
November 07, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring  

For millions of Americans, sleep apnea is a serious health condition. Not only can it impair your day-to-day living, you might be more susceptible to high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.

Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for short periods while asleep. When blood oxygen drops too low, your body automatically wakes you to take a breath. This can disrupt your sleep several times a night. Chronic symptoms like drowsiness, irritability or headaches during the day, or indications you're a loud snorer, are all possible signs of sleep apnea.

Fortunately, we can treat sleep apnea. One way is continuous airway pressure therapy (CPAP), a pump device that supplies pressurized air through a mask to keep the airway open during sleep. Although CPAP is effective, some people find it uncomfortable to use.

There's a more comfortable option for sleep apnea caused by mouth structures like the tongue or tonsils obstructing the airway. It involves a custom-fitted oral appliance worn while you sleep that moves these structures out of the way.

Such appliances come in two basic types. One type fits over the upper and lower teeth and uses tiny metal hinges to move the lower jaw and tongue forward away from the airway. The other fits around and presses the tongue down like a tongue depressor to move it forward.

Before starting treatment, we need to first find out if you actually have sleep apnea and what's causing it (some cases may be more acute and require advanced treatments like jaw surgery). We'll need to perform medical and oral exams and take a history, and we'll likely refer you to a sleep medicine specialist for further testing.

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, a custom-fitted appliance could be a good solution. We'll create and adjust it according to your particular mouth and jaw contours for maximum comfort. Besides the appliance, you might also lose excess weight, adjust your sleep position, seek treatment for allergies, and quit smoking. All these could help reduce sleep apnea.

In any event, your first step is to find out if you have sleep apnea. From there we'll help you find the right treatment to improve your overall health and well being.

If you would like more information on treatments for sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Eastern Shore Smile Solutions
April 25, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring  

If your sleeping partner snores, it could be more than an annoyance: it could be a sign of sleep apnea. This occurs when air flow into the lungs becomes obstructed in the throat for a few seconds during sleep. The obstruction can take many forms, but a common one arises from the tongue relaxing against the back of the throat, producing snoring sounds as air attempts to pass through this restricted area.

Sleep apnea can cause severe problems: lower daily energy levels and mood from poor sleep; lower oxygen saturation that could affect brain function; and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. So, if you’re awakened by your partner’s snoring (or they’re complaining about yours!), it’s important to have it checked and treated.

This begins with a visit to us for a complete oral examination. Like many dentists, we’re well trained in the anatomy and structures of the mouth, as well as the causes and treatment of sleep apnea. We’ll examine your mouth, take into account any possible symptoms you’re experiencing and, if your suspicions are correct, refer you to a sleep physician to diagnose if you have sleep apnea.

Treatment will depend on its cause and severity. An oral appliance worn during sleep is the recommended first treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea that involves the tongue as an obstruction. We develop a custom appliance that helps move your tongue away from the back of the throat, reducing both apnea and snoring sounds. For more advanced sleep apnea you could benefit from a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. This device generates continuous air pressure through a mask worn while sleeping that helps keep the airway open.

Of course, there are other causes for obstruction, some of which may require surgical intervention to relieve the problem. Abnormally large tonsils, adenoids or excessive soft tissue can all restrict air flow. Surgically removing or altering these structures could help reduce airway restriction.

Whatever type or degree of sleep apnea you or your partner may have, there are solutions. The right treatment will not only improve overall health, it will help both of you get a better night’s sleep.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea and how to treat it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “If You Snore, You Must Read More!