Sleep time is our body’s self-recovery time. Good quality of sleep supports the initiation of an adaptive immune response. During deep slow-wave sleep, human growth hormone is released, which allows repair of the tissue and organ of our body.
Sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD) result in poor quality of sleep. They cause recurring decreases in oxygen levels throughout the night or fragmented sleep. As a result, our body suffers systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress and sympathetic activation. These are the prime drivers of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Chronic SRBD also leads to depression, immunodeficiency, memory loss and other diseases.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common SRBD. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It is different from insomnia, in which you have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Sleep apnea puts a lot of stress on your body, mainly your heart. Your blood oxygen levels start to drop because you stop breathing. This results in high blood pressure and increases your risk of a heart attack. Sleep apnea can make your condition much worse if you already have heart problems.
If you have sleep apnea, you're more likely to have an abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation, which could increase your risk of a stroke. Sleep apnea has also been linked to obesity, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, aggressive behavior, fibromyalgia, premature death.
In children, we often find those who have ADD/ADHD, bed-wetting, restless sleep, nightmares, short attention span, or difficulty focusing in school or math class, have sleep apnea or similar SRBD. Those children often have one or more of the dental/craniofacial signs below: mouth breathing, crowded/crooked teeth, double chin, small lower jaw, underbite, cross-bite, disproportioned mid-third face or lower third face, dark circle under eyes, teeth grinding at night, tongue tie, tongue thrusting/dysfunctional swallow, swollen tonsils/adenoids, or chronic allergies. The above signs appear in adult sleep apnea patients too.
Hypopnea is when you take shallow breaths for 10 seconds or longer while asleep and your airflow is at least 30% lower than normal. But your breathing doesn’t stop since your airway is only partly blocked. Hypopnea can cut off your nighttime breathing by a third or more. That means less oxygen gets carried around your body. This can lead to symptoms that are similar to apnea.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is when you regularly stop breathing while you sleep because your brain doesn’t tell your muscles to take in air. It’s different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which something physically blocks your breathing. But you can have both kinds together, called mixed sleep apnea. Learn More
Dentists are encouraged by the American Dental Association to screen patients for SRBD as part of a comprehensive medical & dental history and exam.
Our offices currently offer home sleep testing. Home sleep testing reflects your normal sleep most accurately because you are tested in your bed. It may be the easiest method of determining a diagnosis of an SRBD from UARS, hypopnea, to OSA, CSA.
If you or your children snore, feel tired even after a whole night’s sleep, can’t function well without coffee or tea, or have one or more of the dental/craniofacial signs stated above, you should check for sleep apnea / SRBD and we might be able to help.