The average individual sleeps nearly one-third of his or her life. Sleep is a critical function for overall systemic health, emotional wellness, and mental clarity. Sleep apnea can be a serious medical condition affecting an individual's ability to think clearly, react quickly, and remain alert, in addition to elevating the risk for other health issues and diseases, including cancer. Sleep apnea occurs when normal breathing is blocked during sleep. An individual may stop breathing several times or more than 50 times per hour. It is a common ailment, affecting more than 18 million Americans.
Airway issues and sleep disordered breathing (SDB), like sleep apnea, are best treated with a multi-disciplinary approach after thorough assessment with advanced diagnostics. Dr. Mark A. Cruz, a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) with nearly 30 years' experience in progressive dentistry in South Orange County, is a Co-creator of the Multi-Disciplinary Airway Collaborative, which studies a variety of airway issues, their causes, and the most effective treatments.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA syndrome, causes the diaphragm and muscles in the chest to exert in order to open the blocked airway and draw air into the lungs. When breathing resumes, an individual may jerk or gasp, and may have an interruption of sleep. Episodes of sleep apnea cut off the flow of oxygen that is needed to maintain healthy organs.
Dr. Cruz is able to diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep disordered breathing issues through his experienced assessment of symptoms and high-resolution pulse oximetry screening. With extensive training in these medical conditions, Dr. Cruz analyzes several factors, including tongue position, excess oral tissue, facio-skeletal development, mouth breathing, and the patient's risk factors and medical history.
In certain cases, a polysomnogram, also called a sleep study, may be recommended. Conducted in a sleep laboratory, a sleep study measures the patient's breathing patterns, air flow, eye movements, heart rate, brain and muscle activity, and blood oxygen.
For mild sleep apnea, a patient may benefit from simple treatment or behavior modification, such as:
- Weight loss when applicable
- Avoiding sleeping on his or her back
- Address sinus issues or congestion
- Avoiding alcohol
Other treatment for sleep apnea may involve:
- CPAP - continuous positive airway pressure equipment
- Oral mandibular advancement devices that maintain an open airway
- Surgical removal of extra tissues that block the airway
- Airway evaluation
Each patient has unique needs. After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Cruz will recommend a custom-designed treatment plan for a patient dealing with sleep apnea. For more information about sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing conditions, contact Mark A. Cruz, DDS, today at 949-661-1006. Located in Dana Point, CA, our practice also serves patients from Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, San Juan, and South Orange County.