Sleep disordered breathing is a general term used to describe a range of problems that occur as a person tries to breathe while sleeping. It includes snoring as well as severe sleep apnea. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment immediately. Dr. Mark A. Cruz in Dana Point has dedicated an extensive amount of his time to working with doctors from various disciplines to discuss the relationship between the airway and facial development.
Those who suffer from sleep disordered breathing may be prone to daytime sleepiness. However, often, it is their bed partners who first notice a problem. When loud snoring from the patient disrupts the bed partner's sleep, a well-respected dentist such as Dr. Cruz is often contacted.
Dr. Cruz has extensive training in the screening and management of sleep disordered breathing using a multidisciplinary approach. He can see signs such as facio-skeletal development, tongue posture, excess tissue, mouth breathing, and specific types of tooth wear. Dr. Cruz detects signs of apnea or related conditions by using a high-resolution pulse oximetry screening. It provides objective, detailed, accurate data, which is used to assess the patient's risk factor. If the screening returns a positive result, Dr. Cruz will review possible management strategies and recommend a consultation to help attain a diagnosis.
Treatment options vary based on the individual needs of the patient. There are lifestyle changes that can improve breathing and reduce snoring. These can be recommended alone or in combination with other treatments.
Weight loss may be recommended. Extra fat around the neck makes it easier for the muscles around the airway to collapse and block off airflow to the lungs. Losing a few pounds can make a difference in the ability to breathe at night.
Avoiding alcohol and certain medication may also help. Sleeping pills, pain killers, and muscle relaxants cause the muscles around the throat to relax more than normal. Drinking alcohol or taking certain medication before bed can set the stage for breathing problems once a person falls asleep. Smoking can also increase the amount of swelling and fluid retention in the airway. The result is a narrow airway that is likely to collapse during sleep.
Another treatment is myofunctional therapy, a series of exercises guided by a trained myofunctional therapist. These exercises progress, and they essentially tone the base of the tongue and the airway to keep the airway open, even when asleep. Treatment can take about a year. If you suffer from snoring, we recommend scheduling a consultation with Dr. Cruz. He will work with you to determine the right diagnosis and treatment.