The Unknown Facts About Untreated Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can kill. Yes, in the evidence based literature, in the news, and in official “cause of death” reports all over our nation, the lethal potential of sleep apnea is overwhelming, alarming, and often overlooked. The worldwide prevalence of under diagnosed, under treated, and under screened sleep apnea is over 1 billion people.  A myriad of co-morbidities, ranging from cardiovascular problems such as stroke, high blood pressure (hypertension), congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease, to Alzheimer’s / Dementia to Diabetes, Metabolic syndrome, mental disorders- depression, PTSD, and even fibromyalgia all have deep connections to obstructive sleep apnea. In children (pediatric population), sleep apnea is also often overlooked and not diagnosed as root cause for their behavior and performance at school and at social settings. They often then get mis-diagnosed as having ADHD or ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), and are put on medication such as Ritalin or Adderall. They often get labeled as well and on these prescription pharmaceuticals; and since, these children don’t have the root cause addressed, they often end up building dependency on the medications.

Sleep physicians often prescribe CPAP therapy for sleep apnea treatment. However, the compliance and adherence is so poor, that most people suffer the ramifications of untreated sleep apnea anyway due to their lack of use. As adults (and children need more hours), we are suppose to sleep 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night at 7 nights per week. Most labeled as “compliant users” of CPAP only use the therapy at 60%, meaning around 5 hours per night and 4-5 days per week. When they are not using the CPAP, they are having ZERO treatment. Increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and worsening of brain fog, memories, job performance, alertness, all can potentially happen due to that fact. New studies show that the mean disease alleviation, apnea load/ apnea burden, and long term effectiveness of CPAP therapy is not only poor, but also very potentially harmful because it may cause patients to think they are not at risk for serious consequences during those times when the machine isn’t plugged in or in use. Imagine if a patient goes to the dentist and gets a crown done. If the dentist tells the patient to only use that new crown 4-5 days per week, what would the patient think? Yet, an ill-fitting crown most likely won’t cause death, but untreated sleep apnea can very well cause heart attacks, strokes, and even death. 

The good news is that there are options in dental sleep medicine for effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and snoring.  Using state of the art equipment, such as cone beam CT scan 3-D scanning of the upper airway, and dynamic measurements using the Eccovision pharyngometer and rhinometer, the office of Nevada Dental Sleep can  provide long-term effective treatment solutions for airway and sleep apnea problems. Recent studies and important peer reviewed evidence based research prove that dental sleep medicine treatment is on the opposite end of the spectrum versus CPAP therapy when it comes to mean disease alleviation and apnea load/ apnea burden. With customized oral appliance therapy, functional orthodontic treatment options and orthotropics with myofunctional therapy, Nevada Dental Sleep medicine has a triple board certified sleep dentist to help all those in the Vegas valley and Henderson.  The treatments are non-invasive, quality of life changing, and even life saving. Nevada Dental Sleep accepts patients new and old, and from age 2-100.