If you’re planning a vacation in the waning months of summer or a road trip for Labor Day weekend, don’t leave without a sleep apnea test if you suspect you could have this disorder. If you do have apnea, Dr. Michael Thrasher can fit you for a custom mouthguard that will help you sleep better and relieve sleep apnea symptoms, including excessive sleepiness.
While sleepiness can cause problems such as poor performance at work, it’s downright dangerous if you doze off while driving. Studies of long-distance truck drivers have linked untreated sleep apnea to a higher percentage of traffic accidents.
We want you and your family to be safe while on the road! Call Hillcrest Dental Care at 254-400-2868 for help scheduling a sleep apnea test. We’ll arrange for you to wear a device at night that will measure interruptions in breathing while you sleep.
Why Sleep Apnea Makes You So Sleepy
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your tongue or other soft tissues relax and block your airway while you sleep. Your body reacts to reduced oxygen in your blood by partially or completely awakening. This interrupts your breathing, sometimes as many as hundreds of times a night. You don’t get the kind of deep sleep your body needs to function properly. Not surprisingly, this makes you sleepy during the day.
Many sleep apnea sufferers experience other unpleasant symptoms too, like:
- Waking frequently with a dry or sore throat
- Regular bouts of insomnia
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Waking with a headache
- Forgetfulness and difficulty focusing
An Oral Appliance Relieves Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Two of the most commonly suggested sleep apnea treatments are an oral appliance or a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Both keep your airway open as you slumber, the appliance by gently shifting your jaw forward and the CPAP by sending a flow of pressurized air into your throat. A sleep apnea appliance usually works well for mild and moderate cases of apnea. A CPAP may be needed for more severe cases.
Appliance Is a Less Obtrusive Sleep Apnea Treatment
Many sleep apnea sufferers, and their bed partners, prefer an appliance to a CPAP because it’s less obtrusive. Some folks find it difficult to get used to breathing forced air. The most important thing, with either an appliance or a CPAP, is to wear it consistently. So comfort is important. Dr. Thrasher will take impressions of your teeth and other measurements to ensure your appliance fits perfectly and will be comfortable to wear.
There’s no mask or tubing to get in the way with an appliance. Unlike a CPAP, an appliance is soundless and it won’t leave you with a dry throat. You can even speak normally and drink water wearing some appliances.
Even if you use a CPAP, an oral appliance is often easier to use on trips, because it’s much easier to transport. You can tuck it into a purse or a pocket. You won’t need to worry about an electrical outlet or batteries with a snore guard; you can use it when those aren’t available.
Untreated Sleep Apnea Is a Risky Business
As if making you sleepy while driving isn’t dangerous enough, research has linked sleep apnea to serious health issues, including high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
The list of conditions linked to sleep apnea includes:
- Alzheimer’s disease
If you think you could have sleep apnea, don’t hit the road until you see Dr. Thrasher. Call Hillcrest Dental Care at 254-400-2868 to make an appointment for a sleep apnea consultation.