Some think sleep apnea only causes snoring. But if untreated, sleep apnea can cause stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. According to Dr. Tim Stirneman from All Smiles Dental, about 20% of the population suffers from sleep apnea. Tom Rodman is one of the many who suffer from sleep apnea. He says, “I just felt progressively tired throughout the day and I’d be at a stop light and the car behind me would have to beep to have me go at a green light. Over a period of 8 or 10 years I did gain 50 or 60 pounds. The weight gain was another big cue that it was time to take a closer look. So I went to a regular doctor and they prescribed a sleep study, went in had that and stayed over night and sure enough it was definitely obstructed sleep apnea.”
When a person with sleep apnea falls asleep, their jaw drops back and the airway closes. The breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes, and in severe cases this can happen over 30 times per hour of sleep. Tom tried various treatments to help his moderate sleep apnea, but nothing seemed to work.
It wasn’t until he visited his dentist that he finally found relief. “I had seen an article in our local newspaper illustrating how Doctor Tim has an intervention available that is just a simple oral appliance and I thought well I owe it to myself to at least look into it.” Dr. Stirneman says, “It’s called a mendibular advancement device. And that basically is just a fancy term for holding the jaw forward. When you go to sleep at night it actually keeps the jaw from falling back. The way that it works is we get a patient positioned out a couple of millimeters past where they normally are at and then we monitor them to see how they do.”
Tom wears his small device every night when he sleeps and it has greatly improved his sleep apnea. He is now feeling much better and he feels like he is catching up on “7 or 8 years worth of sleep.”
Dr. Stirneman urges sleep apnea sufferers to visit a dentist who is well trained in fitting the device.