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Sleep Apnea and Natural Dentistry

by Marlaina Donato

are still unaware of the many alterna- tives available. These options include fluoride and mercury-free procedures and a less invasive treatment for sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous health condition if left unaddressed. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects more than 12 million people of all ages, including children. In essence, the condition interrupts breathing, thus diminishing oxygen in the body. Episodes of stop-and-start breathing can take place numerous of times a night and last for a minute or more. There are three types of sleep apnea, the most common being Obstruc- tive sleep apnea which is caused by

M 44 Lehigh Valley

odern dentistry has come a long way, both conventional and holistic, but many people

muscles and soft tissues of the throat to collapse with relaxation and obstruct the airways. Central sleep apnea oc- curs when the brain fails to signal the muscles of respiration and the breath stops temporarily. Some people can have a combination of both types of sleep apnea. Untreated obstruc-

tive sleep apnea can increase the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, cardiovascular disease, stroke, memory impair- ment, impotence, anxi- ety disorders, weight gain, fibromyalgia, gas-

tric reflux, lowered I.Q., mood swings and depression. Sleep apnea is an in- creased risk for overweight individuals, affects males more than females and is often seen in people over the age of 40; however, women, thin individuals and young people can still have the condi- tion. Symptoms of sleep apnea can include loud snoring, morning fatigue and waking with a headache or dry mouth. Not all individuals who snore have sleep apnea, and some people who experience sleep apnea do not snore at all. Due to the inconsistency of symptoms, a diagnosis is made only through a sleep study where the patient can be monitored throughout the night. Diagnosis is easier and more convenient now and does not involve going to a sleep clinic. A test can be conducted at home with a simple device that fits over the hand. In the morning, the device is removed and then mailed to the company where an in-depth analysis can be made. The good news is that sleep apnea

can be treated. The most common recommendation is a CPAP (Continu- ous Positive Airway Pressure machine with a breathing mask that opens airways as the person sleeps. Unfortu- nately, many people find the device too cumbersome, noisy or uncomfortable to use especially if the mask is not fitted properly. Surgery is a drastic measure after other treatments are exhausted and involves removing the tonsils and tissues of the soft palate. A more comfortable and reliable treatment is a custom-made dental appliance that fits into the mouth and aligns the jaws for the free passage of air during the night. The result is sounder sleep for longer periods and increased oxygen levels.

At Northstar Dental Care in Nazareth, cus- tom dental devices for the treatment of sleep apnea are available as well as alternatives for optimum dental health that exclude toxic com- ponents. Today, many people

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