SEATTLE — Your partner's snoring makes it difficult to get any good sleep, but it can also be a sign of sleep apnea. The condition affects more than 22 million Americans of all ages, including children.
"Most people are undiagnosed," said Dr. Tigran Khachatrya, owner of A Smiling Heart Dentistry. "They don't even know they have it."
The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when a person's airway is blocked. It can occur up to 30 times an hour for seconds at a time. Dr. Tigran warns if your partner stops breathing at any point during their snoring, that's a red flag.
"When you don't get enough oxygen your brain wakes you up saying 'Hey, I need some oxygen. What happens if you keep waking up at night? You don't get deep sleep."
Sleep apnea can also lead to a host of other health issues, like diabetes, heart issues, stroke, Alzheimer's, and acid reflux. It's commonly caused by "tongue tie" or the tongue not having enough space, which forces it to go back into the throat. Dr. Tigran claims it's possible to tell if someone has this issue from the day they're born and correct it early on. CPAP Machines, jaw repositioning devices, and in severe cases jaw surgery can all be used to treat sleep apnea.
Dr. Tigran also cites epigenetics as an increasingly popular way to treat sleep apnea which can help the jaw develop fully even if a patient is well into adulthood, "We wake your genes up and make your jaw start to grow to where it was supposed to."
It's possible to grow both the upper and lower jaw to make more room in the mouth to fix tongue tie.
Many patients are left undiagnosed because sleep apnea is difficult to identify, requiring sleep studies and other observations. Dr. Tigran recommends a smaller device that patients can wear while sleeping at home that they can return to a sleep doctor for the results.
To learn more about this test, other ways an orthodontist can treat sleep apnea, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.smilesfromheart.com.