Snoring & Sleep Apnea Treatment - Albuquerque, NM
Start Getting the Rest You Deserve
More than 20 million Americans currently suffer from sleep apnea, and surprisingly, about 80% of these cases are undiagnosed, meaning they are going untreated. Do you feel tired in the morning and throughout the day no matter how much you sleep? Have friends and family told you that you snore loudly? Have you almost dozed off behind the wheel? If so, then the proven solutions at Craniofacial Sleep Medicine and TMJ might be exactly what you need. Thanks to our expertise and scientific approach to care, we can help you not only sleep better, but protect your long-term health as well with snoring and sleep apnea treatment in our Albuquerque, NM dental office.
Why Choose Craniofacial Sleep Medicine & TMJ for Snoring & Sleep Apnea Treatment?
- Able to Directly Treat the Source of Sleep Apnea
- Fast & Pain-Free Nightlase Treatment for Snoring
- Happy to Accept Medical Insurance
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by someone having brief but frequent pauses in their breathing while sleeping. This can be due to the tissues in the throat collapsing together to obstruct the airway, or the brain may not be sending the right signals to the body to breathe. Regardless, this causes a sudden drop in oxygen, forcing the body to partially wake up to restore normal respiration. These episodes can occur so quickly that a person doesn’t even notice them. In the most severe cases, a person can stop breathing up to 100 times an hour.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea whether they know it or not. The common disorder causes breathing disturbances while you sleep. Your breath may pause from time to time or your breathing could become very shallow. In some cases, both of these things may happen. Although snoring is one of the hallmark symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s not the only one you should keep an eye out for. Symptoms can vary from person to person, making it difficult to spot the disorder unless you know what to look for. If you experience any of the following, you may have sleep apnea.
Excessive Daytime Fatigue
The frequent awakenings associated with sleep apnea make it difficult to get normal, restorative sleep. As a result, it’s common for patients to experience severe daytime drowsiness, irritability, and fatigue. You may have difficulty concentrating throughout the day and find yourself falling asleep doing mundane tasks, like working, watching TV, or driving. Because of this, people with sleep apnea are at higher risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
One study reveals that over 30% of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) sufferers experience morning dry mouth. That’s mainly because sleep apnea tends to force mouth breathing, which leads to dry mouth. It’s worth noting that using a continuous airway pressure (CPAP) machine to treat sleep apnea can also contribute to dry mouth.
Although researchers are still unsure what causes headaches in patients with sleep apnea, it’s believed to be related to low blood oxygen levels during sleep or sleep disturbances caused by lapses in breathing. Because it allows less oxygen to reach the brain, carbon dioxide accumulates in the bloodstream, causing blood vessels in the brain to expand. As the pressure from that expansion builds up, it may develop into a headache. Of course, some researchers claim that the headaches are merely a symptom of poor sleep.
Not all people who snore have sleep apnea. However, if the loud snoring is accompanied by any of the symptoms listed above, it may be an indication of OSA. The disorder is characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence when breathing stops or nearly stops. These pauses in breathing may eventually cause you to wake up with a loud snort or gasping sound.
Untreated Sleep Apnea
Because the sleep cycle is constantly being interrupted, this prevents someone from reaching the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. This results in chronic exhaustion, but the dangers of untreated sleep apnea go far beyond this. Apnea episodes are extremely stressful on the cardiovascular system and cause a large spike in blood pressure that can last for several hours, even after normal breathing is restored. As a result, sleep apnea has been shown to dramatically increase someone’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
The Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can affect more than just your ability to rest and feel energized throughout the day. Left untreated, it can lead to severe consequences in both the short and long term, many of which can ultimately prove to be fatal. Not only that, but sleep apnea can also affect the people closest to a patient, causing them to develop serious health issues as well. By better understanding the risks, you can know just how important it is to get sleep apnea treatment in Albuquerque as soon as possible.
Short-Term Dangers of Sleep Apnea
One of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea is fatigue and exhaustion. While this in itself is unpleasant, it is also extremely dangerous in certain situations, like for people who regularly drive or operate heavy machinery. Each year, hundreds of motor vehicle accidents are attributed to tired, under-rested drivers, and a large percentage of them are found to be suffering from sleep apnea.
In multiple studies, it has been shown that driving while drowsy is actually worse compared to driving while drunk when it comes to accident risk. This is why many long-haul trucking companies require their drivers to undergo a sleep test before hitting the road.
Long-Term Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Over time, sleep apnea can lead to:
- Depressive thoughts
- Increase in anxiety
- Focus/memory problems
- Rapid weight gain/problems losing weight
- High blood pressure
- Huge increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke
This condition can be extremely damaging to both someone’s mental and physical health, and when it comes to obesity and weight gain, the relationship is particularly insidious. Being overweight is one of the primary preventable causes of sleep apnea, but at the same time, sleep apnea can also cause someone to gain weight rapidly. This is because chronic tiredness can make it almost impossible to have the energy to exercise, plus sleep deprivation throws off the balance of a person’s “hunger hormones,” leptin and ghrelin. This causes those with sleep apnea to crave calorically dense, sugar/carbohydrate-rich foods, plus it can take about 500 extra calories a day to help them feel full.
How Sleep Apnea Harms Those Around You
It’s difficult to be a good parent, partner, friend, or employee when you’re exhausted all the time. Those with sleep apnea describe having less patience or “shorter fuses,” causing them to lash out at those around them, which can strain both personal and professional relationships.
And, because sleep apnea is often accompanied by loud, persistent snoring, just living with someone with the condition can cause sleep loss. This results in a household filled with tired, irritable people who are at an increased risk of a laundry list of health issues.
Suffice it to say, if you think you have sleep apnea, it’s not just good for you to get sleep apnea treatment in New Mexico, but it will also improve the lives of the people you care about most!
Who Do We Treat?
Absolutely anyone, at any age, can suffer from sleep apnea. Thankfully, Dr. Coontz and Dr. Fischer have years of experience treating a wide range of people, meaning they can shape their approach based on someone’s unique needs. Their ability to provide multiple options means that anyone with sleep apnea can trust they’ll be able to provide a lasting solution.
Men tend to suffer from sleep apnea about 2-3 times more often than women. This is because they usually have more risk factors, with obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol use being the main ones. Because many men work in jobs where they operate heavy machinery, sleep apnea therapy cannot only protect them from dire health consequences, but their coworkers as well.
Even though it is rarer, women can experience sleep apnea as well. Their risk tends to go up notably after menopause. Sleep apnea and craniofacial pain often occur in tandem in women because they are more likely to experience TMJ problems and teeth grinding.
About 2-4% of children can develop what is called Sleep Disordered Breathing, which can manifest as chronic snoring or sleep apnea episodes. With children, instead of being tired, sleep apnea can cause them to be hyperactive and have trouble focusing, which is why it is often misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. Fortunately, the issues tend to subside once a child’s sleep is under control.
How We Treat Sleep Apnea
Most forms of sleep apnea treatment are solely designed to manage the symptoms, which can certainly provide relief for patients, but they don’t address the underlying issue, meaning the disorder never fully goes away. This is why our team strives to discover the root source of someone’s sleep apnea, and then we can treat it directly, leading to better rest, better health, and a much lower risk for serious health complications down the line.
Nightlase Laser Airway Management
Snoring and sleep apnea are often caused by loose tissue toward the back of the throat that collapses together throughout the night. With Nightlase, we can provide a gentle treatment that tightens this tissue to open up the airway and prevent future problems. The laser encourages collagen production to make the tissue naturally firm up. This procedure is extremely comfortable, and the recovery time is practically non-existent.
Oral Appliance Therapy
A custom-made oral appliance can be prescribed as a less invasive alternative to traditional CPAP therapy. These are only worn to bed, and they work by slightly shifting the jaw forward and/or keeping the tongue in a neutral position. This prevents the airway from becoming blocked. Certain appliances can also protect the teeth from grinding (which can contribute to sleep apnea), and with children, they can direct the development of the mouth to increase the size of the airway.
For patients with severe sleep apnea, CPAP therapy may be absolutely necessary to get quality sleep. However, the machine can often be very loud and uncomfortable, causing a patient to forgo treatment altogether. With combined therapy, a patient wears an oral appliance while using their CPAP. Thanks to the assistance provided by the oral appliance, the airway is partially opened, so the CPAP can be put on a lower setting, making it quieter and easier to use.