Do you or a loved one suffer from intense snoring, morning headaches, fatigue, or gasping during sleep? If so, you or your loved one could be experiencing a dangerous medical condition known as sleep apnea. This common sleep disorder can create life-threatening health risks if left untreated; however, there are advanced solutions available that can reduce those risks and help you obtain a healthier and more peaceful sleep. Dr. Michael Fulbright is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and is extensively trained and experienced in helping both adults and children affected by sleep apnea. Dr. Fulbright offers a range of treatment options, including effective alternatives to cumbersome CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines, that have helped many individuals successfully improve both their sleeping habits and their health.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
As we sleep, muscles and tissues in the nasal passages, mouth, and throat become relaxed. Sleep apnea is a disorder which causes these tissues to become too relaxed, resulting in narrowed – or completely blocked – air passages. There are a number of different types of sleep apnea. While snoring is a common effect of sleep apnea, millions of Americans are affected by the condition’s most common form: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This type of sleep apnea causes a person to actually stop breathing while they are sleeping. Individuals with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may experience breathing pauses of several seconds at a time, occurring multiple times per night. Many people who have sleep apnea are completely unaware they are suffering from the condition. It often takes observation from a loved one, or the effects of symptoms on one’s day-to-day life, for them to realize something may be wrong. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options for patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea.
I have been suffering from sleep apnea for awhile. Last year, I decided to seek treatment. I tried the machine for about 6 months. Was not working for me and felt frustrated. My doctor rendered me to Dr. Fulbright. I went in and right away the staff was friendly, unlike most dental offices I’ve been to. I met with Dr. Fulbright who explained in depth how the mouthpiece works and the benefits. They took the impression and within a month I was approved by my insurance and the mouthpiece was made. I’ve got to say it makes a world of difference to me. I feel more rested. And, unlike the machine, there was no long adjustment period. For me, it took a day. But I’ve heard from others that it worked the first night. I’ve recommended my brother to go see Dr. Fulbright as he suffers from sleep apnea also. The staff and doctor are very, very, very friendly. I highly recommend them to anyone who suffers from sleep apnea and cannot use the machine.
Sleep Apnea Testimonials
At Fulbright Dental, we can treat sleep apnea at our office with the help of a PSG (polysomnogram) or HST (home sleep test), which involve a special series of tests performed overnight. These tests help us determine whether an oral appliance is the best option for treating your sleep apnea or snoring.
If you have questions concerning sleep apnea please call our office (310) 593-2137 or email us.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
There are a number of symptoms associated with sleep apnea that can have serious and debilitating effects on an individual’s sleeping habits, general health, and day-to-day life. These include:
- Pauses while breathing during sleep
- Waking up abruptly with a gasping or choking sensation
- Waking up several times to go to the bathroom
- Difficulty staying focused and concentrating
These are just a few of the nighttime and daytime symptoms that can be linked with sleep apnea. While individuals who suffer from the condition often have different symptoms, it is important to be able to recognize these common signs of sleep apnea. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be exhibiting symptoms, a professional evaluation should be performed as soon as possible.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are three major types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA); Central Sleep Apnea (CSA); and Complex Sleep Apnea. As noted above, OSA is characterized by the excessive relaxation of soft tissues and muscles in oral cavities, ultimately resulting in blocked airways. CSA is not as common as OSA; however, it causes many of the same symptoms and is equally as dangerous. CSA results when muscles that regulate normal breathing patterns temporarily stop getting signals from the brain. This type of sleep apnea is typically more common among patients who have had a stroke, an infection in the brain, a spine or cervical condition, or other conditions that affect the brain stem. Complex Sleep Apnea is a mixture of both OSA and CSA.
Obesity is known as one of the most common causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. An enlarged tongue, thickened tonsils, and/or an excess amount of fat in the neck can significantly increase pressure on air passages, ultimately forming a blockage while sleeping. Other possible causes of OSA include hereditary factors, exposure to smoke from tobacco, and structural irregularities in orofacial anatomy. With that in mind, it is important to note that the condition can strike anyone, including those who have none of the potential associative factors that can lead to sleep apnea.
What Are the Health Risks of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can dramatically increase risks to your health and have a serious impact on your livelihood. Some of the risks associated with untreated sleep apnea include:
- Heart disease
- Sudden cardiac death
- High blood pressure
- Gastric reflux
- Memory loss
- Accidents while driving or at work
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased sex drive
Sleep Apnea in Children
Sleep apnea is not a condition that only affects adults; recent estimates indicate that between one and four percent of children suffer from the condition as well. In addition to the signs common among older patients with the disorder, children with pediatric sleep apnea may exhibit symptoms such as growth problems, bedwetting, sleepwalking, behavioral problems, and others.
Our practice offers sleep apnea treatment options for patients of all ages. If your child is diagnosed with pediatric sleep apnea, Dr. Fulbright can create a customized treatment plan designed to keep the air passages clear and help them sleep peacefully through the night.
Sleep Apnea Treatment With Oral Sleep Appliances
Oral appliances are the most commonly accepted method for treating sleep apnea and are a great alternative to a CPAP mask or surgical treatment. The appliance fits in the mouth like a mouth guard or orthodontic retainer and prevents airway obstruction by repositioning the lower jawbone and soft tissue. This can reduce or eliminate snoring and allows the patient to sleep through the night with no airway blockage. After an evaluation by our sleep apnea dentist, the device is typically customized to allow optimal comfort and functionality.
Oral appliances can often be utilized as the primary treatment for sleep apnea, or in combination with other therapies. They do not involve cumbersome tubes or wires, noisy machinery, or bulky equipment that can be difficult to transport. One of the most important aspects of oral appliance therapy is its ability to increase patient compliance with the treatment. In some cases of CPAP therapy, patients have stopped utilizing the device because of inconvenience or discomfort. Oral appliance therapy eliminates many of the drawbacks associated with CPAP therapy and can help patients experience an uninterrupted pattern of sleep, which can lead to much more significant rates of patient compliance with the treatment protocol and reduce the risks that are posed to patients who stop treatment altogether.
Our practice offers some of the latest types of oral appliances, including Sirona’s OptiSleep, Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) and ProSomnus® sleep devices. ProSomnus® sleep devices contain no metal parts and are custom-designed to keep the air passage open while fitting comfortably inside the mouth.
It is important to note that Fulbright Snoring & Sleep Solutions is one of the very few offices in the Los Angeles region that is approved by Medicare for certain kinds of sleep apnea appliances. Dr. Fulbright makes treatment for this condition a strong focus of our practice and is committed to helping those affected by sleep apnea reduce risks to their health.
Sleep Apnea in Truck Drivers / CDL Drivers
Dr. Michael Fulbright has treated numerous patients who need effective treatment for sleep apnea to pass their mandatory physicals in order to qualify for commercial driver’s licenses. A diagnosis of sleep apnea in truck drivers and other CDL drivers may disqualify them from maintaining their licenses if the condition goes untreated. If you are seeking sleep apnea treatment to help ensure your ability to qualify for a CDL, our practice can explore your options with you and determine a solution that may be ideal for your needs.
Read more about sleep apnea treatment for truck drivers and find out how we can help.
Please visit our comprehensive sleep apnea and snoring treatment website for more information. If you would like to schedule a sleep apnea evaluation with Michael Fulbright DDS please call (310) 593-2137 or contact us online. We are happy to answer your questions about sleep apnea and the many advanced treatments available that can combat the effects of this common condition.