Obstructive sleep apnea is not just about snoring loudly; sleep apnea is a serious health condition. Sleep apnea has serious adverse health impacts, including an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Sleep apnea sufferers are at risk of developing migraines, TMJD, and even diabetes. Sleep apnea patients may also be at risk of developing cognitive problems and dementia, according to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Nursing.
The UCLA researchers examined the brain scans and health records of individuals living with obstructive sleep apnea who were not under treatment for the condition and compared them to the brain scans of people who did not have sleep apnea. Their analysis found that those individuals living with sleep apnea had evidence of thinning of the cerebral cortex thickness – the part of the brain that plays an essential part in memory, perception, cognition, and consciousness.
They also found that women living with untreated obstructive sleep apnea had greater rates of cerebral cortex thinning than men with untreated sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects over 22 million Americans and many more are living with the condition undiagnosed.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes blocked. For many individuals, this occurs when the tongue falls back and blocks the airway during sleep. When the airway becomes blocked, patients are often jolted awake, gasping for breath. This situation can happen 30 to even 100+ times a night, depending on severity.
We know it sounds strange for Dr. Korous to be talking about sleep apnea, but dentistry and sleep apnea are often related. For some individuals, dentistry can help sleep apnea by repositioning the jaw.
Here’s how: if the position of the jaw is set too far back, the tongue collapses into the airway when the patient is relaxed during sleep, and the airway becomes blocked. By situating the jaw in a more forward position using a custom-fitted dental appliance, the tongue will not fall and block the airway.
The result is a more restful night’s sleep, reduced blood pressure and a lowered risk of developing serious health complications like cognition problems because of sleep apnea.
For more information about the risks of obstructive sleep apnea and how our Frisco dental office can help, contact Millennium Smiles by calling 972-987-4899.