Before you start reading, we recommend you glance at our information about Sleep Apnea HERE
I have been practicing Dentistry for 30 years. I have been very fortunate to have some great people around me who have helped us have a great practice. We are involved in a lot of different things in our Dental Practice as you have seen on our website.
Over the years, I made Sleep Appliances for patients who asked me to make them an appliance for snoring. Those devices worked and they helped people decrease snoring, but I didn’t really have a way to follow up with them. Most of those people only wore the appliances because their spouse wanted them to. I asked patients to get a Sleep Studies done, but I was not generally successful at getting them to go. The compliance with the appliances was low and the cost for the appliance was high because of the lab costs to us. It was not a great situation.
In January of 2013, I was in a Continuing Education conference. At the end of the talk, the speaker said that one of the most significant things their practice had done recently was to get a device that would do an actual Sleep Study in the patient’s bed. That was news to me!
I called a friend who I knew did a lot of teaching about Sleep and asked him if this was what he was doing and he said yes. His name is Dr. Kent Smith and he is from Dallas Texas. I had not taken his course because I had such a difficult time getting patients to go to a Sleep Physician that I did not see the benefit.
I was wrong. I got a WatchPAT device and we did the first Sleep Study on me.
I did not think that I had Sleep Apnea but I felt like I needed to see what our patients would experience if we did this for them.
I had recently lost about 40 pounds and was exercising a good bit and felt like I was in good shape. I do not look like someone who has Sleep Apnea. I did however know that I was starting to get up at night often, I had a difficult time waking up in the morning, and I sometimes would get very sleepy driving. It was hard for me to go to sleep at night and I was using medicine to help me do that. I generally did not really feel good but I thought that every 57 year old guy felt like I did. WRONG!
Halfway through the night of my sleep study, I put my sleep device in one night and thought it would be interesting to see what the changes were if any.
The next morning I download my Sleep Study and opened it up with my entire staff around me. I sent the study to someone to help me interpret it. When we got on the speaker phone, he gasped and asked me how bad I felt….. That got my entire team’s attention. He said that I had severe Sleep Apnea! I stopped breathing 43 times an hour and when I did that my heart raced, my oxygen level dropped to way below safe levels and a whole lot more….. The second part of the night when I had my appliance in I was not in an ideal situation but I was at least safer. That scared me and my team!
It put me on a mission. I decided to learn as much as I could about Sleep. I tested everyone around me and treated most of them as well as myself. I sought out Dr. Alan Thomas, a Sleep Physician at Trinity Medical Center, and asked him to help me.
A few weeks after I started getting myself up to speed with Sleep information, we had a patient that we sedated to do some Dentistry and his Blood Pressure went from normal when he was awake to 212/115 while he was asleep and snoring. We did a Study on him and it showed that he had severe Sleep Apnea.
He was not sure that he wanted to get involved with all of this and he put off getting treatment. Two weeks later he had a massive Stroke. He knew then what the problem really was and he got treated, but he is still having significant issues. His life may never be what it was before the stroke. A month ago he was finally able to come back to the office and he thanked me for trying to get him on the right track.
The problems I was having were inconveniences to me. Except for being sleepy while driving, I thought nothing bad was really happening to me. The reality is that I could have really hurt myself or someone else while I was driving. The reality is that having my oxygen level as low as it got for as long as it got was creating a potentially dangerous situation for me.
I had another patient who suddenly had his Father Die in his sleep. I had recently tested our patient and he had severe Sleep Apnea. He told me that his Father snored just like he did. There is no way to really know but I think that if his Father had been treated for Sleep Apnea he might be alive today.
This is a serious problem. But there is good news! Things can be better!
Now I can sleep through the night without having to get up several times. I feel refreshed in the morning when I wake up. I do not use medication to get myself to sleep at night. If I go to bed early enough, I wake up before the alarm clock goes off. I did not know that I should be able to wake up on my own at the appropriate time without an alarm clock.
And I feel like I have turned “my clock” back 10 years or more. I did not realize how bad I felt. I am able to exercise more and I generally feel much better than I did before.
So – If you are anything like me or if you have a CPAP or BiPAP and you are having difficulties, we may have a real good chance to help you feel better too!
If you snore or suffer with a Sleep Disorder please give us a call! As you can see, we have witnessed the devastation that these disorders can cause. We understand your apprehension and frustration and we will do everything we can to help! This appointment could save your life or keep you from hurting someone else in a traffic accident. Snoring isn’t sexy, this appointment might make your spouse much happier to sleep next to you again!
This is why Dr. Sanderson Cares About Sleep Apnea.