Sleep Apnea Treatment in Santa Clarita - Leda M. Whitmer, DDS
Sleep apnea is among the most common breathing conditions experienced by countless of men, women, and even children annually. Caused by the physical obstruction of the airway by tissue in the back of the throat, this breathing problem prevents individuals from sleeping through the night, forcing them to subconsciously wake up in order to kick-start their breathing. Without proper treatment, sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue as well as a number of other serious health consequences.
At our dental practice in Santa Clarita, we recognize the seriousness of this condition and its potential for significantly compromising our patients’ long-term health. By having undergone a dedicated sleep apnea residency at UCLA, Dr. Whitmer is experienced in identifying the symptoms of sleep apnea and can help coordinate appropriate care for every patient. Working with local sleep physicians and health professionals, our Santa Clarita family dentist is able to help individuals receive the best care for their needs.
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Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
As sleep apnea only occurs when patients are asleep, most individuals with the condition are unaware that they are suffering from a breathing condition. While patients may notice more significant daytime fatigue and difficulty falling asleep, it is often their partners or family member who, hearing the characteristic snoring.
This deep snoring is one of the most recognizable symptoms of sleep apnea. This loud, ongoing snoring is often accompanied by second-long pauses in breathing as well as the sound of choking or gagging when airflow returns. During the day, sleep apnea patients often find themselves struggling to stay awake or quickly falling asleep when they sit or relax. Other symptoms to look for include difficulty remembering, morning migraines, mood changes, and dry or sore mouth.
Parents of children with sleep apnea may find their child struggling at school or showing signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At night, children suffering from sleep apnea also snore very loudly and frequently, sweat excessively, and may also wet the bed accidentally.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Seeking help for sleep apnea starts with a comprehensive sleep test. After discussing your symptoms with Dr. Whitmer, our Santa Clarita dentist will provide you with an at-home sleep testing device. The Apnea Risk Evaluation System (ARES) is worn while patients sleep and measures blood oxygen saturation, pulse rate, airflow, snoring levels, head movement, and positioning. The results of this at-home sleep study are then uploaded and sent to a trusted sleep physician in the area.
Once the sleep physician has made a diagnosis, patients can begin exploring their treatment options. For many adults, continuous positive airway therapy, or CPAP, is considered the gold standard for treating sleep apnea. However, some patients find the mask to be uncomfortable or difficult to wear overnight. For these individuals, oral appliances are an ideal compromise. Where CPAP uses a machine to maintain airflow, sleep apnea splints gently push the lower jaw forward, preventing tissue from collapsing and blocking airflow. While this alternative is effective on its own, it can also be used in conjunction with CPAP to provide a more tolerable experience.
Treating children with sleep apnea starts with understanding the cause. For example, if the condition is caused as a result of a bite or jaw misalignment, Dr. Whitmer will refer your child for care to an orthodontic specialist. For patients suffering from sleep apnea as a result of enlarged tonsils, we can help coordinate care with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
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At Leda M. Whitmer, DDS, our mission is to help all patients maintain lasting health and wellness. If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea-like symptoms, schedule a consultation. Contact our Santa Clarita dentist today.