Sleep Apnea & Snoring Treatments In Calgary

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Another happy (if you can even use that term when referring to a dental appointment!) visit with Jenn Silver and her crew. I have NEVER felt so comfortable at a dentist in my entire life. Everyone, from reception to the hygienist, is wonderful. And best of all, in my particular circumstance, Jenn and her team were able to provide a lower cost alternative for what could have been an expensive problem.

Thanks again!

— Carol Thompson, ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Google Review

Sleep apnea is a condition where the airway repeatedly becomes entirely blocked, preventing breathing. The word “apnea” means “no breathing.” You might wake up enough to gasp for air and then fall back to sleep. In the morning you often have no memory of these incidents.

The official definition of sleep apnea is blocked breathing five or more times per hour for at least ten seconds each time. The average time is 22 seconds. Try holding your breath for 22 seconds — good luck! The lack of breathing causes a significant drop in blood oxygen levels. Although there are three types of sleep apnea, the most common one is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

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Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat collapses and blocks your airway. This blockage prevents you from breathing and deprives your brain and heart of needed oxygen. This can result in an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which can place you at a greater risk of heart attack and stroke.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea: While less common, central sleep apnea is equally dangerous. It occurs when your brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that regulate your breathing. There is no blockage of your airway, just a breakdown in the function of your respiratory center. Patients with central sleep apnea may experience pauses in breathing for as long as two minutes at a time. As a result, your brain and heart become severely oxygen-deprived, placing you at greater risk for serious health complications.

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Although OSA sufferers are not typically aware of the non-breathing episodes each night, they can notice the following daytime sleep apnea symptoms:
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Teeth grinding
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Impotence
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nighttime sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain at night
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Short term memory issue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Sore throat
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Gastric reflux
  • Mood swings
  • Restless sleeping

These symptoms can cause tension in your relationships, problems with performance at work, and even dangers such as falling asleep at the wheel while driving. In addition, if you sleep in the same room as a partner, they may resent you for keeping them up all night with your snoring. Most people find that their quality of life improves significantly after seeking help for their sleep apnea and finding an effective treatment option.

Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Children

Children can share common symptoms of sleep apnea like snoring, restlessness, waking up repeatedly during the night, and more. However, children can also suffer from the following sleep apnea symptoms:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Bedwetting
  • Poor performance in school
  • Stunted growth
  • Behavior problems
  • Short attention span

If you believe your child may be dealing with sleep apnea, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is normally caused by a number of different things including:

  • Small airways
  • Large tonsils
  • Airway constriction
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Large amounts of second-hand smoke

Risks associated with untreated sleep apnea

People with sleep apnea experience multiple instances of interrupted breathing during sleep. In order to resume breathing, your brain must partially reawaken; while you may not be aware of the breathing interruptions and waking, this process can occur hundreds of times a night. This, in turn, prevents your brain from achieving the restful, REM sleep you need. Additionally, when your brain senses the lack of oxygen, it signals your heart to work harder, pumping more blood and contributing to a heightened risk of serious health problems including:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Coronary artery disease

Sleep apnea can also lead to depression, daytime fatigue, memory problems, mood swings, morning headaches, and other issues. This disorder can take quite a toll on your life so it’s important you have it treated as soon as possible.

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Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

The best type of treatment for sleep apnea will vary from person to person. For some individuals it’s a CPAP combined with weight loss; for others, it might be surgery; and in certain situations, the best type of apnea appliance is a special type of mouthpiece (called a mandibular advancement device) that’s made by our dentist, Dr. Jennifer Silver.

What is a mandibular advancement device?

A mandibular advancement device positions your lower jaw in a special way that helps prevent airway blockage at the back of your mouth. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth then send the specifications to the oral appliance manufacturer. Once it’s ready, you’ll try it on and we’ll adjust it to your mouth. You might need to come back a few times to have it fine-tuned to get the perfect fit. However, it’s common for people to say that they see positive benefits from their oral appliance as soon as the first night they wear it! If you’re CPAP intolerant, be sure to ask your physician about seeing a sleep dentist about a mouthguard.

How do I know what treatment option is right for me?

Before we can advise you on a treatment option, we have to determine if you snore or have sleep apnea (or both). We can provide you with a take-home test called ARES to evaluate the potential levels of sleep apnea and snoring you may be suffering from. This test is an initial screening tool. It is not used by us to diagnose if you have sleep apnea. The diagnosis of whether you have sleep apnea must be completed by a doctor who specializes in sleep apnea in Calgary. We will refer you to the appropriate professional for further diagnosis

Severe cases of sleep apnea may require a CPAP machine, but many mild to moderate cases can be treated relatively easily through the use of an oral device. If you require a CPAP machine, our clinic will refer you to a sleep centre with respiratory therapists for this treatment option. If you would benefit from an oral appliance, our dentist, Dr. Jennifer Silver, offers a mandibular advancement device called SOMNOMED, which is custom fit for comfort and effectiveness.

The SOMNOMED oral device is approved under the FDA for the treatment of sleep apnea and is easy to use. It works by moving the jaw forward in order to clear the airway during sleep so that you don’t wake up multiple times due to oxygen deprivation. Some benefits of the SOMNOMED oral device are:

  • It is custom-fit
  • It is comfortable to wear
  • It comes with a three-year manufacturer warranty
  • It gives you the ability to open your mouth

Whether you are suffering from mild or severe sleep apnea, we treat OSA according to the needs of every patient and will work closely with you to find the best option.

FAQs

Sleep apnea can range from mild to severe. Depending on the severity of your sleeping disorder or obstructed breathing, there can be serious physical side effects that increase your chances of things like a heart attack or stroke. Sleep experts know that when your body is deprived of oxygen (which is what happens when you have sleep apnea) it can raise your blood pressure and lead to muscle tension throughout your body. That’s why it’s common to feel fatigued and tired, even if it felt like you actually slept through the night.

If you have a condition like depression or diabetes, sleep apnea can make it more difficult to get those situations under control. Your body is essentially worn out and working overtime. Having a sleeping disorder can also increase your frequency of headaches or possibly falling asleep during the day while you’re driving or at work.

Although sleep apnea itself doesn’t kill people, the effects of sleep apnea like cardiovascular disease can. So, don’t ignore the warning signs and symptoms. If you suspect that you have obstructive sleep apnea, be sure to consult with our dentist.

There’s not usually a permanent “fix” to treat sleep apnea and prevent it from coming back. Sleep apnea treatments vary depending on the particular type of sleep apnea that you have. If you’re seeking help for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most appropriate type of treatment we would offer is a custom oral sleep appliance, which is also known as a mandibular advancement device. In rare situations, surgery or laser treatment (including tonsillectomies) might also be recommended to manage excess soft tissues at the back of your throat and create more room for airflow.

Most people find that once they get into a routine of using an oral sleep appliance for mild to moderate sleep apnea, they don’t usually need anything else. However, if symptoms worsen or there are other conditions at play, additional treatment might be needed. Your physician may recommend follow up testing depending on your physical health and frequency of symptoms.

Yes, one of the most common side effects and symptoms of sleep apnea is teeth grinding and clenching (a condition called “bruxism”). When your brain is deprived of oxygen, your jaws clench tightly together. Even though your teeth are extremely strong and durable, they can’t stand up to this excessive force night after night. Over time, your teeth will start to wear down, look flat, chip, or break. Consequently, your dental work will start to break apart too. In a few cases, our Calgary dentist might also see things like root exposure because of receding gums.

All of that pressure on your teeth also radiates into your jaw muscles, TMJ, and the sides of your face. As a result, you’ll tend to experience issues like TMJ disorder and headaches. If you notice popping and clicking when you move your mouth or you’re not able to open as wide as you used to, it could be because of your sleep apnea. Be sure to make us aware of these symptoms when you’re here for a checkup.

No, a sleep apnea clinic can provide you with an appliance that is custom-made for your mouth and is very comfortable to wear.

No, most patients find the appliances very comfortable and sleep through the night within one week. Less than 10 percent have reported a period of adjustment of up to two weeks, but after that, most report they aren’t aware they’re even wearing a dental appliance.

No, prior to constructing the appliance, we will check the health of both your teeth and gums. We will advise you of any dental treatment required before we make the dental appliance.

Many patients who suffer from sleep apnea and snoring also present with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD) symptoms. Some patients actually see some improvement in their TMJ symptoms, others do not. We will work to adjust the snoring appliance to obtain an optimum position to manage your sleep apnea and any TMJ symptoms.

The plastic used in the construction of our custom-fit snoring appliances is medical grade and has been carefully tested for safe human use.

No. After your consultation, we can arrange for you to take home a sleep testing unit called the Apnea Risk Evaluation System (ARES). After you wear the appliance for two nights, we will be able to obtain detailed information about your sleep and the level of both your snoring and sleep apnea. If your sleep apnea is severe enough for a referral to a sleep centre, we will refer you for further evaluation.

No referral is needed. We will provide your family doctor with all our findings from the ARES sleep test and discuss with them any benefits to your overall health, such as reduced blood pressure and weight loss.

Not necessarily, but having sleep apnea can raise your risk of conditions that might contribute to bleeding gums. For example, people with apnea tend to have a harder time controlling underlying medical issues like diabetes. And science shows us that diabetics tend to have a more challenging time managing gum disease, because of how closely the two conditions are intertwined.

Perhaps you have some type of airway blockage or breathe through your mouth while you’re sleeping. Mouth breathing can contribute to dry mouth and red gums, increasing your chance of issues like bleeding when you floss or a higher rate of tooth decay.

If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to pay extra attention to the health of your teeth and gums. Practice daily flossing, brushing along the gumlines, and be sure to visit our dentist in Calgary at least every six months for a professional cleaning and exam. Bleeding gums tend to be closely attributed to periodontitis, so don’t ignore the symptoms or accidentally assume that they’re because of your sleep apnea.

Depending on the type of sleep apnea you have, a special type of dental mouthguard called a “mandibular advancement device” may be able to help you with your medical condition. These sleep mouthpieces position your jaw in a certain way that helps maximize oxygen flow while you’re sleeping.

However, not all oral appliances are the same. Only a specific type of sleep mouthguard made and delivered by a trained dentist is appropriate to wear. But even then, oral sleep appliances are best reserved for cases of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a specific category of sleeping disorders.

Dental sleep appliances can also help with chronic snoring. So, if you make it difficult for your loved one to get a good night’s rest, you may want to look into having a dental appliance made. All you’ll need is an impression of your teeth!

It’s also effective to wear your sleep mouthguard with a CPAP as needed. The two are safe to use together, but some people find that having an oral appliance prevents them from needing a CPAP at all.

There are constantly new developments and discoveries for medical conditions and sleeping disorders. One of the newest treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that’s gaining tremendous support in the medical community is the use of oral sleep appliances or sleep mouth guards. These mandibular advancement devices work by positioning the mouth in a way that allows for optimal air flow, instead of using a machine to force air into the airway (CPAP) while you sleep.

But just because oral sleep appliances are new doesn’t mean they’re gimmicky. It’s taken quite some time for sleep physicians and experts to find the correlation with dental treatments and management of sleep disordered breathing.

The great news is that some people find using a sleep mouthguard can actually eliminate their reliance on a bulky, noisy CPAP machine! But not all oral appliances are created equal (or work for every type of sleep apnea.) For an effective mouthpiece, you’ll need to see a dentist who works with sleep apnea professionals.

In most cases, immediately! The appliance is designed to bring the lower jaw forward into proper alignment. Therefore, a decrease in the obstruction that is the cause of your sleep apnea will begin as soon as you start to wear the appliance. The snoring appliance does need to be adjusted over a few weeks to achieve optimum results. Follow-up visits and sleep studies will ensure that the snoring appliance is having the desired effect.

With proper care, most snoring appliances last three to five years.

Sometimes the snoring appliance can be repaired if it is damaged. In the first year, the appliance is guaranteed and there is no charge for any repair or replacement due to damage or breakage while wearing the snoring appliance. If you lose the appliance, we have to charge you the full cost of replacement.

After fitting you with your snoring appliance, we will see you for follow-up visits at set intervals. You can call us at any time with any questions or concerns.

We do not start any treatment until we have completed an initial sleep study with the ARES device and your doctor has reviewed its findings. Depending on your discussion with your doctor they may refer you for a CPAP evaluation.

If you have further questions about snoring appliances or sleep apnea in Calgary, please contact us at the Southcentre Dental Clinic to schedule a free consultation.

About Dr. Jennifer Silver

Calgary dentist Dr. Jennifer Silver has extensive experience treating snoring and helping those with sleep apnea (and their loved ones) regain healthy sleep patterns. She’ll work closely with you and your doctor to find the best treatment option for your specific needs.

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