Why Treating Sleep Apnea is Important: Understanding the Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Why Treating Sleep Apnea is Important: Understanding the Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a severe disorder where you experience shortness of breath during sleep. It is caused by the airway becoming blocked. At the same time, a person is asleep, resulting in breathing difficulties that can lead to significant health complications. Sleep apnea is more common than you may think and affects over a million individuals worldwide, and it is essential to know how to get a diagnosis and treatment for this condition. This blog post will discuss why treating sleep apnea is necessary and why you should seek medical attention if you think you may have this issue.

Reasons Why Treating Sleep Apnea Is Important

May Increase High Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea can increase a person’s blood pressure because of the stress it puts on your heart. As a result, untreated sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, which can worsen your overall health. High blood pressure can strain your body and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Can Affect Your Mental Health

Individuals with sleep apnea often wake up feeling tired, irritable, and depressed. This tiredness is because the condition affects the body’s ability to get proper restorative sleep, which leads to decreased concentration, memory, and mood swings. Sleep apnea can also lead to anxiety disorders, affecting your daily life.

May Worsen Respiratory Problems

Sleep apnea can aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. These conditions can all worsen sleep apnea, leading to a cycle that is hard to break.

Sleep Apnea And Obesity Are Linked

Sleep apnea is more common among unconditioned, overweight, and obese people because obesity can lead to the accumulation of excess fat around the individual’s neck that obstructs airflow during sleep. Research studies have shown that losing weight may reduce the severity of sleep apnea and lead to an overall improvement in health.

Can Increase The Risk Of Accidents

Individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to fall asleep during the day, making them more prone to accidents while driving or operating heavy machinery. Losing sleep can be particularly dangerous for those in certain professions, such as long-haul drivers, pilots, and factory workers.

Sleep apnea requires therapy. The great news is that effective treatments help you breathe easier, sleep better, and feel energized throughout the day. If you think you may have sleep apnea, contact our highly trained sleep apnea doctor, Dr. Brian McDowell, DDS to avoid any further health complications. Remember, a good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining good health and quality of life.

Signs Of Sleep Apnea

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a prevalent yet often undiagnosed sleep disorder affecting millions of individuals worldwide. It is a medical condition where breathing stops and starts during sleep at random times, adversely affecting your health and well-being. When not treated, sleep apnea may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the signs of sleep apnea and seek treatment immediately. To learn how you can recognize the signs of sleep apnea and when to seek medical attention, continue reading and call our sleep apnea dentist for a consultation at our Fitchburg office.

Loud Snoring

If you snore loudly and wake up tired or groggy, it may indicate that you have sleep apnea. When you have sleep apnea, the airway becomes partially or entirely blocked during sleep, leading to snoring, gasping, or choking sounds. If your snoring is a cause for concern, you should see a doctor.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

The second sign of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness. You may have sleep apnea if you constantly tire or nap during the day. When you have sleep apnea, you wake up multiple times at night, leaving you tired and groggy during the day. If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, you should speak to a sleep specialist.

Pauses In Breathing

One of the most common yet often unnoticed signs of sleep apnea is the stopping and starting breathing patterns during sleep. You may not know it, but your partner may notice you struggle to breathe during sleep. Stopping breathing for a few seconds or gasping or choking during sleep may indicate sleep apnea. If you or your partner notice these signs, speaking to a sleep specialist is essential.

Morning Headaches

If you wake up with a headache every morning, it may indicate that you have sleep apnea. When you have sleep apnea, you may not be getting enough oxygen during sleep, leading to headaches when you wake up. Headaches can also be a sign of other underlying health conditions, so speaking to your doctor is essential. If you recognize any signs of sleep apnea, it’s crucial to speak to a sleep specialist as soon as possible. They can diagnose sleep apnea and recommend the appropriate therapy based on the severity of your condition. Treatment options can include lifestyle changes, like weight loss, oral appliance therapy, using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, and surgical procedures. If not treated, sleep apnea can have severe consequences, so it is vital to seek medical attention immediately.

Schedule A Sleep Apnea Consultation

If you experience any of the above signs of sleep apnea, call our Fitchburg sleep apnea specialist Brian C McDowell DDS to schedule an evaluation. With over 30 years of experience and advanced training, our sleep apnea specialist is sought out by patients from

Rick Factors & Causes Of Sleep Apnea

Rick Factors & Causes Of Sleep Apnea

Rick Factors & Causes of Sleep Apnea Fitchburg | Brian C. McDowell, DDS | Sleep Apnea Specialist in the Fitchburg areaAre you struggling to get enough sleep? Do you wake up tossing and turning? Are you frequently tired during the day? Or are your loved ones complaining about snoring? If so, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Working with a sleep apnea expert, such as Dr. Brian McDowell, who has 30+ years of experience and advanced training to treat sleep-disordered breathing with oral appliance therapy as an alternative to CPAP therapy. You will be able to identify sleep apnea and the underlying conditions and factors causing it. From there, you can identify the appropriate prevention and treatment plan.

Causes Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is caused when the muscles or soft tissue in the back of your throat relax. This movement of tissue obstructs the airway, which can then cause a wide range of factors and conditions. Effective treatment requires first identifying the cause of sleep apnea, so proper diagnosis is vital.

Sleep apnea can also result from other medical conditions. Conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, obstruct the upper airways. Circulatory conditions, including diabetes mellitus and congestive heart failure, are known to be present in many people who have sleep apnea. Hormones may also play a part in developing this sleeping disorder, as menopausal women and those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a greater chance of experiencing sleep apnea.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

While some medical conditions increase a person’s risk of sleep apnea, other risk factors predispose people to this condition. Some risk factors of sleep apnea include:

  • Obesity – Substantial research supports the link between obesity and sleep apnea. This link is primarily due to excess fat around the neck and face that can constrict the airways. Studies show that around 70% of individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are obese.
  • Sleeping position – Some sleeping positions may increase your risk of sleep apnea. We recommend that someone at risk of sleep apnea sleeps on their side since this improves bodily circulation and reduces the likelihood of snoring. Another good option is stomach sleeping, which allows gravity to pull down on the throat muscles and works in your favor by keeping the airways open.
  • Inherited – It’s possible to inherit sleep apnea. Researchers believe genetics can contribute quite heavily to the development of sleep apnea. Studies show that 40% of a person’s risk for sleep apnea is because of their genetics. In comparison, the remaining 60% is due to lifestyle factors.
  • TMJ Disorders – Problems with your temporomandibular joint, including injuries and arthritis, may indicate the presence of sleep apnea.
  • Smoking – Smoking of any kind serves as an irritant to the upper respiratory system. This irritation can lead to dryness and swelling, which only worsens someone’s likelihood of having an obstructed airway.
  • Nasal Congestion – Someone with acute or chronic nasal congestion will experience much resistance in the airway. Doctors have found that, by simulating nasal congestion, individuals demonstrated sleep symptoms such as snoring, shallow breathing, and apnea. Individuals with chronic nasal congestion are twice as likely to experience sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol can not only worsen cases of sleep apnea but this substance is also known to cause apnea. Alcohol and other sedatives decrease someone’s need to breathe, which is already a concern for those with sleep apnea. Someone who frequently drinks alcohol will experience slowed breathing and even more relaxed muscles, which can lead to a collapsed airway.
  • Hormonal Abnormalities – Individuals who do not produce enough melatonin will struggle with their sleep-wake cycles and have a greater risk of experiencing sleep apnea. Studies also show that low estrogen and progesterone levels can bring about sleep apnea since these two hormones help with muscle maintenance necessary to keep the airway intact.

Various other conditions and factors can contribute to developing sleep apnea. Without treatment, sleep apnea can have profound health consequences. Furthermore, medical conditions such as heart disorders can be severe. That’s why it’s important to discuss your situation with a sleep apnea expert, such as Dr. Brian McDowell, so you may get help treating your sleep apnea.

Should I Wear A Nightguard?

Should I Wear A Nightguard?

Nightguards Fitchburg | Sleep Apnea Specialist Fitchburg MAA nightguard is an oral device worn while sleeping to protect your teeth and jaw from clenching and grinding. Over time clenching and grinding can cause unnecessary wear on the teeth, sometimes leading to chips, cracks, and even tooth loss.

Night mouthguards are soft plastic and fit comfortably over your teeth. The nightguard absorbs force and friction from tooth grinding that can wear down the enamel and damage your teeth over time.

However, nightguards are not just for individuals who grind their teeth. Various conditions can benefit from wearing a nightguard. To see if a nightguard is right for you, call our sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Brian McDowell, for an evaluation and custom fitted oral appliance.

Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Nightly snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a medical condition in which breathing stops for short periods when sleeping, often up to 10 seconds. Short periods of stopped breathing during sleep can prevent your body from receiving adequate oxygen, which increases your risk of health issues like heart disease and stroke.

A nightguard for snoring and sleep apnea differs slightly from a custom mouthguard. Our highly trained dentist in Fitchburg, Dr. McDowell, designs each oral appliance for sleep apnea to keep the airway open by gently pushing the lower jaw and tongue forward. This gentle pushing helps prevent the soft tissue and tongue in the back of the throat from collapsing and blocking the airway.

Grinding Teeth At Night

Bruxism is the habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, which can cause wear and cause chips, cracks, or other damage. Bruxism may also lead to headaches, jaw pain, and tooth sensitivity. The cause of bruxism is unknown, but it may be correlated to anxiety, stress, or sleep disorders.

A nightguard protects your teeth from the wear and damage caused by grinding (bruxism) by absorbing the force and lessening tension and pain in the jaw muscles.

TMJ ~ Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

TMJ is a severe condition that affects an individual’s temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jawbone to the skull. It can cause jaw, neck, and shoulder pain, making it difficult to open or close your mouth. TMJ affects between 5% and 12% of individuals. Fortunately, TMJ is very treatable, and a nightguard is an effective non-invasive way to manage the medical condition. A nightguard can relieve some of the symptoms of TMJ because it keeps the jaw relaxed, alleviating pain and reducing inflammation.

Protects Dental Veneers & Restorations

Veneers and other dental restorations are dental treatments used to improve the function and appearance of teeth and provide added strength and aesthetics. Veneers are thin porcelain shells that your cosmetic dentist cements to the front of your teeth. Restorations, like fillings and crowns, replace tooth structures lost due to tooth decay or damage.

Nightguards are recommended for people with dental veneers or other dental restorations, as these teeth are more susceptible to damage. A nightguard keeps the teeth in alignment, preventing them from grinding and causing chips or cracks. This protection can prolong the restoration’s lifespan.

Improve Sleep Quality At Brian C. McDowell, DDS

Visit Brian C. McDowell, DDS, for custom-made oral appliances to protect your teeth and improve your quality of sleep. Call us at 978-252-2049 to book an appointment and learn how an oral appliance can get you a better night of sleep!

Relation Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Bruxism

Relation Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Bruxism Fitchburg MA | Sleep Apnea Specialist in Fitchburg MAIf you have ever woken up with a sore jaw, sensitive teeth, or a headache, you might have experienced bruxism. Bruxism, teeth grinding, is a condition where an individual grinds, gnashes, or clenches their teeth, typically unconsciously. Understanding the relation between obstructive sleep apnea and bruxism can help with understanding the potential risks of untreated OSA and teeth grinding.

While there are various reasons why you might grind your teeth, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may be a contributing factor. OSA is a sleep condition that affects up to 13% of men and 6% of women across the United States. Contact our sleep apnea specialist at Brian C. McDowell DDS, for an evaluation to learn how to manage and treat both conditions.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing patterns during sleep. These pauses can last a few seconds to a few minutes and occur multiple times per hour.

OSA happens when the muscles in the throat relax and obstruct the airway, causing decreased oxygen levels and increased carbon dioxide. This sleep disorder can lead to severe health problems. Some health issues may include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Sleep-Related Bruxism

During sleep, this condition is also called nocturnal bruxism or teeth grinding. It is a common condition that affects between 6% and 50% of children, 15% of adolescents, 8% of middle-aged adults, and 3% of older adults. Nighttime teeth grinding can cause dental and health problems if left untreated.

Dentists classify sleep-related bruxism as primary and secondary bruxism. Primary sleep-related bruxism is when no underlying medical condition or medication use can explain teeth-grinding behavior during sleep.

Secondary sleep-related bruxism is when teeth grinding during sleep is associated with an underlying medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), anxiety, or depression, or is a side effect of medication.

Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding Correlation

There is a strong link between sleep apnea and teeth grinding. Those with sleep apnea may experience repeated pauses in breathing that lead to increased muscle activity in the jaw and grinding of the teeth.

Sleep apnea and tooth grinding negatively affect oral health. Bruxism caused by sleep OSA can lead to cracked, chipped, or broken teeth. This type of tooth damage may cause tooth or gum infections if not addressed.

Sleep apnea-induced bruxism can also cause tooth enamel erosion, weakening the tooth’s structure and making it more susceptible to cavities.

Contact A Sleep Dentist in Fitchburg Today!

Call our highly trained sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Brian McDowell at 978-252-2049 for and evaluation and custom-made, easy-to-wear oral appliances for a better nights sleep. You may need a sleep apnea assessment to determine if sleep apnea is causing nighttime bruxism or other oral health issues.

We also offer a range of oral appliances to help you get a better night’s rest and to protect your smile. They are an excellent alternative to CPAP machines for patients from Fitchburg, Gardner, Lunenburg, MA and surrounding areas with mild cases of sleep apnea.

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