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Sleep Apnea – Covington, GA

What is Sleep Apnea? We Have Answers

Sleep apnea is the second most common sleep problem right behind insomnia, with 22 million Americans affected daily. Due to more individuals becoming overweight and increased sedentary lifestyles, more and more people are suffering from this chronic condition. At Covington Sleep Center, we offer options to diagnose and treat sleep apnea in Covington, GA.

An apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for very short periods of time during their sleep cycle. The body panics and wakes up when this occurs. Thankfully, instead of letting you suffocate, the body clears the airway by forcing a loud gasp or snort. The main problem is these apneas can happen hundreds of times a night, even without you realizing it. If you’re constantly experiencing apneas, you cannot stay asleep and therefore cannot achieve the deep restful sleep you need to recharge your mind and body.

Technically, there are two types of sleep apnea you’ll need to keep in mind. The most common form, known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), happens when the soft tissues inside the mouth and throat relax enough to block the airway. You’re far more likely to have this form of the condition.

Alternatively, there’s central sleep apnea (CSA), which is less common. This form occurs when the brain stops sending signals to the body to breathe when sleeping. In rare cases, a patient may have both forms of the condition at the same time.

Call our sleep apnea dental office if you experience any of the following symptoms or warning signs of sleep apnea below:

How We Diagnose Sleep Apnea

It’s no secret that diagnosing sleep apnea is difficult, largely because the most common symptoms appear while you’re asleep and unaware of what your body is doing. More often than not, a bed partner is the one to point out your symptoms, such as temporary interruptions in your breathing.

Covington Sleep Center knows that the first step to getting sleep apnea treated is to create a detailed and accurate diagnosis. Our sleep apnea dental office plays a major role in helping you get that. To start, we offer the Epworth assessment so you can confirm your symptoms. This 8-question quiz asks simple yes or no questions to not only inform you but Dr. Dean and his team as well. It’s the quickest way to assess your current risk for sleep apnea. After you’ve completed it and had a consultation with us, we’ll refer you to a sleep doctor so they can perform a sleep study.

Sleep studies are designed to be non-invasive tests that measure your vital signs as you sleep. They are a medical test performed by sleep doctors, allowing them to confirm the presence of sleep apnea. Sleep studies can be performed either at your home or in a lab, depending on your preference. Afterward, you’ll be recommended an appropriate treatment by the doctor. You can return to Covington Sleep Center if you are a viable candidate for oral appliance therapy. Here, Dr. Dean will have you fitted for a custom-made oral appliance.

12 Tips On Sleep Apnea & Sleep Disorders

Man yawning with cup of coffee behind the wheel of a car

1. As an adult, you should only need 6 to 8 hours of sleep per day to feel rested. If you feel fatigued, make sure you’re getting this minimum amount of sleep per night.

2. It’s common for patients with weight issues to also have symptoms tied to sleep apnea. This is likely because they are too tired to exercise.

3. It’s surprising to hear, but sleep deprivation can affect the brain in ways that is similar to alcoholism, drug addiction, and Alzheimer’s.

4. Often misdiagnosed as insomnia, sleep apnea is largely characterized by waking up often throughout the night and sleeping extremely lightly.

5. If you are a chronic snorer, you are far more likely to develop sleep apnea later in life. The good news is snoring can be treated with an oral appliance ahead of time.

6. Not only is driving while sleep deprived similar to driving drunk, it’s arguably even more dangerous. Based on data from a closed course driving test, sleepy drivers were 15 times more likely to get into an accident than sober and well-rested drivers.

7. The overwhelming majority (80%) of those with sleep apnea are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Furthermore, the majority of those with sleep apnea do not seek treatment.

8. Those who have sleep apnea and do not seek treatment tend to have shorter life expectancies, the average reaching 55 years of age.

9. If you struggle with sexual or erectile dysfunction, you should know sleep apnea is one of the most common causes.

10. If you find yourself waking up often to urinate throughout the night, the culprit could easily be sleep apnea.

11. Bruxism, also known as chronic teeth grinding and clenching, is a common comorbidity (or condition that typically accompanies another condition) of sleep apnea.

12. If your tongue or neck is larger than average, you carry a large risk factor for sleep apnea.

Snoring is Annoying, But It's Also Serious

While snoring is often seen as an annoying and unconscious habit, it can actually be more serious than you’d think. In fact, it’s one of the most notable indicators that something is disrupting your sleep. Snoring occurs when air vibrates the tissues in the mouth and throat, mainly because these tissues are partially blocking the airway. In many cases, snoring is a precursor to sleep apnea.

Whether you have sleep apnea or you don’t, snoring implies that you are not breathing completely throughout the night. It effectively prevents you from achieving the deepest sleep possible. Oral appliances are designed to help patients who snore regularly and are at higher risk of developing sleep apnea later.

Learn More About Sleep Apnea Symptoms

The Alternative to CPAP

Sleep apnea dentist discussing oral appliance components

When it comes to treatments for sleep apnea, the continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP, is the most popular and well-known. The device comes with a hose that is attached to a facial mask, which is worn by the patient during sleep. This hose is connected to an air pump, which forces oxygen into the throat in order to keep it open throughout the night. While the device works for some, it’s also very uncomfortable for many.

One of the biggest issues with the CPAP machine is how restrictive it can be. It even makes patients feel incredibly claustrophobic, causing them to have serious compliance issues. The machine can also be loud at times, disturbing both the user and anyone who may be sleeping nearby. The machine is also quite bulky, which not only makes it difficult to move around when sleeping but also bring it on the go.

Thankfully, patients can now take advantage of an alternative treatment that does not include any of these drawbacks: oral appliance therapy. Through this treatment, patients only need to wear a small, custom-made mouthpiece to bed to sleep soundly. The way it works is relatively simple. First, it shifts the position of the jaw forward, preventing oral tissue from obstructing the airway. It’s most appropriate for those suffering from mild to moderate levels of sleep apnea. However, it can also be used in tandem with a CPAP machine, which is known as combined therapy. Since oral appliances are small, compact, and offer zero compliance issues, they are considered to be the easiest form of sleep apnea treatment available today.

Is Sleep Apnea Treatment Covered by Insurance?

Sleep apnea dentist talking to patient

Yes, but things can get complicated when it comes to coverage.

More often than not, sleep apnea treatment through the use of an oral appliance is not covered by dental insurance plans, despite the fact that the treatment is provided and managed by a dentist. In reality, sleep apnea treatment is covered by medical insurance, which only complicates the situation. It only makes it difficult and confusing for anyone to utilize their benefits. Even worse is the fact that more dental insurance plans are beginning to cover oral appliance therapy, making the process far more confusing.

That’s why we employ a team of experts at Covington Sleep Center to help you along the way. By choosing us for your oral appliance, they’ll help you navigate the maze that can be your dental insurance plan and how to best maximize your benefits, regardless of the provider. We’re happy to file claims on your behalf, deal with the paperwork, and walk you through the process, ensuring that your care is more affordable in the end.

How Sleep Apena Screenings Work

Hand with a sleep apnea screening device in place

One of the most important things we can do when studying your sleep patterns is monitor your heart rate and blood pressure. This allows us to determine if you have sleep apnea and confirm how effective your treatment actually is. To do this, we use a small device that allows us to monitor heart rate and blood pressure even while you sleep at home. Simply place the device on your wrist and finger and it will monitor your pulse as you sleep. During this, it will capture extended periods of elevation, which are indicators for sleep apnea. Additionally, it can capture other health concerns not necessarily linked to sleep issues.

If there is one thing you should take away from all of this, it’s the fact that you should contact Covington Sleep Center if you cannot get enough rest and you aren’t sure of the cause. We understand that this can be a lot of information to take in all at once, which is why we want to help you any way we can. We’ll determine the root cause of your sleep issues and provide you with a treatment that fits your needs. Please give our sleep apnea dental office a call today if you are ready to schedule an appointment or have any additional questions.