Could sleep apnea be the reason for your sleepless nights?

Could sleep apnea be the reason for your sleepless nights?

Sleep Apnea

Sleep is an essential component of every person’s health and well being.

Getting adequate sleep enables the body to repair and prepare for another day. Sleep apnea can cause serious sleep disturbances and challenge general health.   

 “A good laugh and quality sleep are two of the best cures in the doctor’s book”

Some people’s sleep may be disrupted by medical conditions, which can have serious consequences for their physical and mental health.

Getting to know the whole person’s health

At Sydney Holistic Dental Centre we use a patient-centred approach, and our diagnosis can often start in the waiting room. Sometimes we can get important clues and indications into a patient’s health with simple observations.
First-time patients will also be familiar with the thorough case history we take to understand your overall health and family history as well as your oral and dental health.

A recent example of a patient who consulted Dr Lewis

First observations useful for further diagnosis

A male patient ‘John’, recently visited SHDC to see Dr Lewis Ehrlich. First observations suggested a sleep disorder may be possible based on his neck and facial structure. John showed the following physical symptoms:

  • Large neck circumference 
  • Overweight 
  • Unusual positioning of his jaw 

If you have any of these symptoms, you may be also experiencing sleep or breathing problems. 

The first course of action Dr Lewis took with John was to send him for a sleep study, a non-invasive overnight evaluation that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to evaluate what is going on in your brain and body.

The sleep study and other diagnoses revealed: 

  1. There was a history of heart disease in John’s family 
  2. His X-ray showed signs of calcification in the ascending carotid artery 

Dr Lewis referred John to a general practitioner and a cardiologist, and he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and other sleep problems that needed to be addressed.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It is a disease that causes significant sleep difficulties.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

sleep apnea

The symptoms of sleep apnea and the negative effects it may have on your health may include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Frequent waking at night to urinate
  • Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would often be reported by another person
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Waking with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Experiencing mood changes

Effects of sleep apnea on your health

The symptoms of sleep apnea and the negative effects it may have on your health are:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm 
  • Risk of having a stroke 
  • Risk of heart failure 
  • Risk of obesity 
  • Risk of high blood pressure

What was the prognosis?

John was put on a CPAP (Continuous, Positive, Airway, Pressure) machine, which is a machine used to treat sleep apnea by delivering a stream of air with a positive air pressure into your airways through a mask or a tube. This helps keep the airways open to avoid sleep apnea episodes.

In John’s case, this was an effective solution because the machine opened his airways, and he now reports sleeping better than he has ever slept before. He also has a lower cardiac risk due to the side effects of sleep apnea.

It was extremely satisfying for our SHDC team to be able to improve not only our patient’s oral health but also his general health.

While CPAP was the solution in John’s case, there are other interventions and resources we have in our ‘tool kit’ that can also make a big difference.

Always feel free to talk to our dental practitioners at SHDC about not only your oral health but your general health as well.