As a Los Angeles dentist who discusses overall health issues with my patients, I’ve found many complaints about not getting enough sleep. Often this is because of a partner who wakes them up or they admit to being the snorer, but don’t realize how this can keep from getting a good sleep.

I let them know snoring can be a sign of a very serious disorder known as sleep apnea (from a Greek term meaning “without breath”). As many as 92% of middle-aged men and 83% of middle-aged women may have a moderate to a severe case that has been undiagnosed. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and the use of tranquilizers can increase the risk.

But even if you and your partner don’t snore, consider the other possible symptoms: insomnia, choking when you wake up the night, the need to urinate frequently at night, severe morning headaches, a sore throat or “cotton mouth” when you wake up, drowsiness and inability to concentrate during the day, depression, or irritability.

There are two types of apnea and some people have both:

*Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is when the brain fails to send signals to the breathing muscles.
*Much more common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea OSA), in which excess tissue at the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway, causing the tongue to fall back and also impede breathing.
The body’s reaction to CSA and OSA is to desperately try to get more oxygen by partially waking up and gasping for air, which can happen 10 to 100 times an hour, disrupting sleep and often causing snoring. The individual goes back to sleep unaware of what happened.

Apnea has been found to be a factor in a significantly increased risk for getting into car accidents because of drowsiness, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

As a Los Angeles dentist, I can assure you that if you live in this region, our team of specialists can diagnose whether you have either or both kinds of apnea and provide the latest treatments. The conventional one is a medical device called a CPAP, which involves wearing a mask and lying on your back all night. It is also expensive.

CSA usually requires a prescription we can write for a drug to manage the symptoms. OSA may need minor surgery that can be performed in our office. Both can benefit from a dental appliance that is like a custom-made mouth guard. Medicare and insurance plans usually cover these treatments.

You can learn more at www.LADentist.com.

Disclaimer: Obviously, every patient’s case is different, and needs to be properly diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional. Please see your healthcare professional or for an appointment.