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Driving Is Dangerous With Untreated Sleep Apnea

Snoring and Sleep Apnea Solutions 1 - Jacksonville, TX | All Smiles - Dr. Larry Folden

For something most of us do every day, driving is a surprisingly dangerous activity . According to the National Safety Council, some 40,100 Americans died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 while another 4.57 million were injured seriously enough to require medical treatment.

Driving becomes even more dangerous if you get behind the wheel with untreated sleep apnea. Sleep apnea sufferers often experience excessive sleepiness during the day. Apnea makes it tough to focus and remain alert, two things that are obviously important while driving. Studies of long-distance truck drivers have linked untreated sleep apnea to an increased incidence of traffic accidents.

Our Jacksonville, TX dentists want you and your family to stay safe while on the road! If you’re planning a final summer vacation or a Labor Day weekend road trip, visit us first for a sleep apnea consultation .

We’ll help you arrange a sleep apnea test. If you do have apnea, we can fit you for a custom mouthguard. It will help you breathe easy while you sleep, get a good night’s rest, and remain alert while you’re awake.

Call All Smiles at 903-374-4406 to make an appointment.

Untreated Sleep Apnea Linked to Many Health Problems

In addition to making you tired, and robbing you of energy and alertness during your daily activities, untreated sleep apnea has been linked to numerous other conditions that negatively impact your health. They include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression

Get a Custom Mouthguard to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

There are two commonly recommended sleep apnea treatments, both of which work by keeping your airway open while you sleep: a mouthguard or a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

If you suffer from apnea, your tongue or other soft tissues block your airway while you sleep, causing you to briefly awaken numerous times throughout the night. No wonder you’re tired during the day! A mouthguard gently shifts your jaw forward into a position that keeps your airway clear, while a CPAP uses pressurized air to do so.

We recommend trying a mouthguard first for cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Most people find a mouthguard easier and more comfortable to use than a CPAP. The most effective sleep apnea treatment is one you will use consistently.

Many sleep apnea sufferers find a mouthguard:

  • Less obtrusive . It doesn’t cover any part of your face, and you won’t get tangled in tubing. There is no noise to bother you or a bed partner.
  • More comfortable . Not everyone finds it comfortable to breathe forced air through a CPAP.
  • Easier to transport . Even if you use a CPAP, a mouthguard is great for travel. It fits into a purse or a pocket. You won’t need to worry about an electrical outlet or batteries. You can use a mouthguard anywhere, whether you’re sleeping on a plane or in a tent.

A custom-made mouthguard fits better and is more comfortable than a mouthguard you can buy in stores or online. Our dentists will work with you to get a perfect fit, so you won’t be tempted to leave it on your night table.

How Do You Know If You Have Sleep Apnea?

One of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea is obesity. Sleep apnea is also more common in adults over 40. And more men than women suffer from apnea.   Additional risk factors include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • A large neck (17-plus inches for men, more than 16 inches for women)
  • A small upper airway
  • A deviated septum

In addition to daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy, other sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring and waking frequently throughout the night. Your bed partner may notice these symptoms even more than you do!

Among other symptoms:

  • Waking with a dry or sore throat
  • Frequent bouts of insomnia
  • Waking with a headache
  • Moodiness or irritability

Visit our office ASAP if you’re experiencing any of these sleep apnea symptoms, especially if a long drive is in your and your family’s future. Call All Smiles at 903-374-4406 to make an appointment.

 

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