What are the Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea?

Categories: Sleep Disorders

dangers of sleep apneaSanta Cruz, Scotts Valley CA

The quality of your sleep is just as important to your health and well-being as exercise and a well-balanced diet. Scientists have linked undiagnosed sleep apnea to an increased risk of serious health issues like cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. It can also be deadly if someone, exhausted from a lack of quality sleep, falls asleep behind the wheel of a car.

In the fast-paced world we live in, getting enough sleep is a challenge, but what can be even more difficult is getting quality sleep, and that’s downright impossible for those who suffer from sleep apnea. What’s frightening is that many people who have this common disorder don’t even know it. Today, our sleep apnea dentist in Santa Cruz is sharing all you need to know about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and how dentists could be the key to you getting a better night’s sleep.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

OSA is a disorder that affects millions of  American adults. It is characterized by loud snoring and breathing interruptions followed by gasping for air during sleep. It is caused when the soft tissue of the mouth, throat and tongue muscles relax and cause an airway blockage during sleep.

What are the most common symptoms of OSA?

If you or someone you know shows the following signs or symptoms of OSA, it’s important to make an appointment with our Scotts Valley sleep apnea dentist as soon as possible:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Decreased libido

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea is dangerous in many ways. It deprives the brain and body of oxygen, over time increasing the risk of serious health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Fragmented sleep also impairs cognitive function, leading to difficulties in concentration, memory lapses and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Sleep apnea hurts more than just the sufferer

The person with sleep apnea rarely remembers being startled awake to breathe each night — up to 100 times in the most severe cases. Bed partners, however, may endure sleepless nights due to all the snoring and gasping for air. Daytime fatigue from not getting quality sleep can lead to a lack of focus and concentration. It can also be hazardous — and possibly deadly — if someone who can’t focus or stay awake operates heavy machinery or a motor vehicle.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Most people associate a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) with sleep apnea treatment, but our airway dentist in Santa Cruz treats mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy instead. This is less cumbersome and inconvenient than CPAP. With oral appliance therapy, we make custom night guards to wear during sleep that keep the jaw in an optimal position and the airway open and unobstructed.


Sleep apnea carries too many risks to ignore it. It affects your quality of sleep and your daily life, and it can lead to big health problems if left untreated. If you snore or have been told you do, give us a call at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, (831) 824-5111, or reach us online to schedule a consultation today.