Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, and When It’s Time to See a Doctor

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If you were to take a poll of most Americans outside of the medical community and ask them whether or not snoring was dangerous, most people would say no.

Other than the joking remarks (i.e. “It’s going to be dangerous for my husband if I slap him in the middle of the night!”), most people don’t view snoring as a serious medical issue.

While some snoring is harmless, it can also be a very real sign of an underlying medical condition: sleep apnea.

At Babylon Dental Care, we help sleep apnea sufferers get the needed treatment for a restful night’s sleep. If you want to treat your sleep apnea (without using a CPAP machine), contact us today to see what options are available to you. Dr. Oz recently wrote an article discussing the symptoms, dangers, and solutions for sleep apnea in efforts to help increase awareness. Read the full article here.


Why is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Sleep apnea means that you stop breathing while you sleep. In fact, a person with undiagnosed sleep apnea can experience hundreds of brief episodes throughout the night when breathing temporarily stops.

During these episodes of apnea your brain and other parts of your body may not be getting the vital oxygen supply needed to function at an optimal level. This is why many people who suffer from sleep apnea report symptoms, such as:

  • Waking up during the night with shortness of breath.
  • Feeling tired or groggy throughout the day.
  • Difficulty staying awake while driving.
  • Feeling irritable for seemingly no reason.

And so on. If your body is not getting the sleep (and oxygen) it needs to rest and recover, the long-term effects on your health can be devastating.

However, before you can treat sleep apnea, you must first understand what kind of apnea you are suffering from by seeking medical attention. There are two distinct types of sleep apnea that we will discuss below.


What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

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Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of apnea and occurs when your airway is blocked during sleep, making it very difficult to maintain a normal breathing pattern throughout the night.

When this happens, the oxygen levels in your blood will drop, which acts as an alarm clock for your brain, waking you up suddenly to breathe.

This defense mechanism is great in the sense that it causes you to breathe, but by having to actively engage in breathing (as opposed to passively while sleeping) you cannot get the sleep you need to restore your mind and body to optimal health.

In effect, your body is constantly in a state of “low battery” because it isn’t able to charge appropriately. Unlike an electronic device, however, the solution is much more complicated than buying a new device or charger.

This cycle can repeat itself as much as 30 times per hour, yet many people don’t realize they are frequently awaking, and may even think they are getting a restful night’s sleep.


What is Central Sleep Apnea?

Central sleep apnea is much less common, yet can present many of the same symptoms. In the case of central sleep apnea, a more serious medical issue may be the underlying cause, such as heart failure or a stroke.

This type of sleep apnea occurs when your brain does not allow proper breathing while sleeping.

Regardless of which type of sleep apnea you have, it is important to contact us in order to schedule your sleep apnea test.


When is it Time to See a Sleep Apnea Doctor?

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If you snore so loudly to a point that either you wake yourself or your partner, it may be time to seek testing and treatment for sleep apnea. Also, if you find yourself choking or gasping for air during the night, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Dentists are often the preferred provider of sleep apnea treatment because they offer alternatives other than CPAP machine. While treating sleep apnea with CPAP is highly effective, it is also difficult for patients (many patients do not want to sleep with a hot, bulky mask all night).

On the other hand, an oral appliance from our Babylon, NY dental office can help alleviate sleep apnea and help you get a peaceful night’s sleep to wake up feeling rested and restored.

If you are searching for a new dentist on the South Shore of Long Island in or around the West Babylon or Patchogue areas, please give our practice nearest you a call today!

We have two locations (Babylon Dental Care at Great South Bay and Babylon Dental Care at Gateway Plaza) and would love to meet you, and help solve your sleep apnea issues. If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but suspect you may be suffering from this condition, we provide fast, effective at-home testing procedures convenient for you (no overnight sleep study required). Give our office a call today to learn more.

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