An estimated 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that causes the airway to collapse or become blocked.
Nicole Dahlkemper, D.M.D., of Water’s Edge Dentistry, explained that sleep apnea prevents you from recharging and getting a restful night’s sleep. If you’re not getting enough oxygen while sleeping, your body and mind won’t be able to hit the refresh button, causing problems that accumulate over time.
“It can have long-term effects on your health, such as depression, type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and even a shortened life span,” Dr. Dahlkemper said.
She emphasized that patients who snore or suspect they have sleep apnea should see a doctor to diagnose the condition, determine its severity and explore treatment options. Although snoring – a sound that causes the tissues in the nose and throat to vibrate – can be a symptom of sleep apnea, she clarified: “Just because someone snores doesn’t mean they have sleep apnea and vice versa, someone can have apnea and not snore.”
“Sleep apnea is a medical condition and should be monitored by a qualified professional,” said Dr. Dahlkemper.
Some people have purchased online and over-the-counter devices to treat sleep apnea themselves, which, in some cases, has actually worsened their condition.
If you think you or someone you love has sleep apnea, don’t suffer needlessly. It is a serious condition that needs to be treated.
Dr. Dahlkemper said that Water’s Edge Dentistry uses a collaborative approach to treating sleep apnea involving collaboration with physicians. Before treatment, a pre-screen is conducted using 3D imaging to assess the cause of sleep apnea or snoring, along with a sleep study with a physician at a sleep lab or with a home sleep study kit.
Dr. Dahlkemper added that Water’s Edge Dentistry offers oral appliance therapy. A person is custom-fitted for an oral device resembling a retainer or mouth guard. While patients sleep, it keeps their airway open and prevents it from being obstructed.
“It’s amazing we can successfully treat this dangerous condition with a small, comfortable, custom-fit mouthpiece. This life-changing solution can help you sleep through the night so you wake up rested and refreshed every day,” she said.
This approach might benefit someone preferring something comfortable, portable, quiet and easier to wear than the bulkier CPAP – an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure – a common treatment for sleep apnea.
Water’s Edge Dentistry also has used an innovative rejuvenating laser snoring treatment procedure, called NightLase®, provided in three short treatments of no more than 20 to 30 minutes over two months. The laser energy rejuvenates the back of the throat and helps keep the airway open during sleep. This procedure can be used in conjunction with oral appliance therapy or CPAP treatment.
“Prior to receiving treatment for my sleep apnea, I was told I had only two options: surgery or wearing a CPAP device. Dr. Dahlkemper introduced me to a wonderful procedure called NightLase®,” said Water’s Edge Dentistry patient Mark J. “Together, the sleep appliance and the NightLase® treatments have allowed me to sleep better, to the point that I no longer feel the morning blues and feel invigorated to start my day.”