In a recent interview on the Wellness Hour with Randy Alvarez, Wichita Falls, TX sleep dentist Dr. Dustin Van Tassell revealed critical truths about sleep apnea

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Dr. Van Tassell talked about one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea: daytime sleepiness. People with sleep apnea often report that they feel sleepy during the day, no matter how many hours they think they slept at night.

As a result of this sleepiness, people with sleep apnea tend to fall asleep during normal tasks, such as reading, watching TV, working, and driving. At a minimum, this disrupts their daily life. At worst, it can cause people to lose their job or get in a dangerous or deadly car accident.

Daytime sleepiness is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea, but there are many others that people report, including:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Morning headache
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Irritability
  • Depression or other mood disorders
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Inability focus
  • Memory problems
  • Loss of energy, drive, or enjoyment of life

If you experience these symptoms, it’s time to get tested for sleep apnea. Most people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed and untreated. 

Causes of Sleep Apnea

In the interview, Dr. Van Tassell talked about the most common type of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea. In this form of sleep apnea, the airway collapses during sleep, usually because the jaw and / or tongue sag backward, cutting off the supply of air.

Dr. Van Tassell noted that the body can only go minutes without oxygen, so the brain has to take action immediately to restore access to air. It wakes just enough to reopen the airway and resume breathing.

Dr. Van Tassell also noted that it’s not just the loss of oxygen that disrupts sleep, it’s the fact that the brain comes to fear the loss of oxygen. As a result, the brain doesn’t let you go into a deeper level of sleep. This keeps the brain from performing vital tasks it does during sleep. These vital tasks include memory functions, cleaning waste from itself, and regulating hormones related to energy use and fat deposition. Disruption of these functions can have long-term health consequences.

Sleep studies also reveal that people with sleep apnea move around a lot when they are supposedly sleeping. This could contribute to the sleep disruption people experience.

There is also another form of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea. In central sleep apnea, your brain stops telling your body to breathe, causing the disruption in your oxygen supply. Central sleep apnea is relatively rare.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Perhaps the most important thing Dr. Van Tassell said about sleep apnea is that it can be treated. Sleep apnea treatment can help your body maintain access to vital air during sleep.

Because the jaw is the main bony support for the airway, repositioning the jaw and holding it in a healthy position can help people keep their airway open. Sleep dentists can do this with an oral appliance.

Dr. Van Tassell explained the advanced technique we use for oral appliances at StarImage Dentistry. We don’t just guess that the appliance will be able to hold the airway open, we use imaging of the airway to confirm that the appliance is doing what it’s supposed to: securing access to vital air. Not only that, but with our expertise in temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD), we can use our diagnostic equipment to measure the tension in jaw muscles. This lets us ensure that the oral appliance isn’t just effective, it’s comfortable, and won’t contribute to painful jaw conditions.

A follow-up visit confirms that the treatment is helping people sleep effectively through the night. 

Life After Sleep Apnea

What do people feel like once they start using their oral appliances to treat sleep apnea? In short, they feel great!

Their tiredness is gone. They look like they’re getting sleep: bags under their eyes and other visible signs of tiredness diminish or go away entirely. They are more productive at work.

Sleep apnea treatment can change marriages. Snoring associated with sleep apnea can be eliminated or diminished to the point where it doesn’t disrupt the sleep of spouses or cosleepers. 

Cooperating with Other Doctors and Dentists

Sleep apnea is a condition that can impact a person’s entire body. When a person has sleep apnea, they are at an elevated risk for numerous health problems, including dementia, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and more. Not to mention the psychological problems people experience because they are not sleeping well at night. As a result, many doctors–such as cardiologists, nephrologists, ENTs (ear, nose, and throat doctors), psychologists, and more–refer their patients to StarImage Dentistry for sleep apnea treatment. In addition, we get referrals from many dentists who don’t treat sleep apnea, but whose patients need treatment.

We are happy to work with referring doctors. We know a team approach leads to better results and helps our patients live their lives to the fullest. 

Need Sleep Apnea Treatment in Wichita Falls, TX?

If you experience the symptoms of sleep apnea and want relief from this life-sapping condition, we can help. Please call 940-341-2519 or use our online form to contact us for an appointment with a sleep dentist at StarImage Dentistry in Wichita Falls, TX.