Healthy Living Magazine

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Most adults require six to eight hours of sleep every night.  We usually take sleep for granted, as it is a basic necessity for life that allows our bodies to heal and be refreshed when we wake. The most common sleep disorder affecting Canadians is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep because the airway collapses and prevents air from entering and exiting the lungs.  It is quickly becoming a pandemic in our society with current research estimating that over 40% of adults may be affected, but of these fewer than 10% are diagnosed and only 1% are adequately treated.

Most people who suffer from sleep apnea do not know it.  Some of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Snoring
  • Lack of Energy
  • Restless Sleep
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Memory loss    
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Poor judgment or concentration
  • Falling asleep while driving
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Obesity

Medical research reveals a deadly link between OSA and many debilitating and life threatening diseases and conditions such as:

  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cancer    
  • ADHD in Children
  • Bedwetting in Children

OSA can be tested by performing a sleep study where a medical recording device is used to record the respiration related functions that occur during sleep. A patient may be diagnosed as having snoring, mild, moderate or severe OSA. 

There are a number of treatments available for OSA but the most common options are Oral Appliances, manufactured by Dentists and C-PAP machines, prescribed through your Medical Doctor. Both of these therapies increase airflow available for breathing, improving quality of life and general health and well being. Previously the C-PAP machine has been the gold standard for OSA treatment but many patients cannot tolerate it. These machines may be cumbersome to wear as they require head gear, hoses and a mask. They are noisy, require the purchase of tubing and filters and may limit sleep positions. It is estimated that as high as 50% of patients that have been prescribed C-PAP therapy are non compliant.  For these patients oral appliances are the best  alternative treatment for OSA as they are effective, comfortable and convenient.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognizes oral appliance therapy as a first line treatment for snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea, as well as C-PAP.  Oral appliances are also considered an alternative to C-PAP for severe apnea when patients do not tolerate C-PAP.

If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from OSA and snoring contact a dental or medical professional for treatment.

Paulette Pillersdorf, D.D.S., Ricky Kwan, D.D. Denture Specialist.

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