Sleep Apnea and Your Dentist
Dealing with Sleep Apnea
Are you dealing with sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea or the disruption of breathing patterns and oxygen levels while sleeping, typically from airway obstruction or shallow breathing, affects millions of Americans. The condition can affect men, women, old and young, even children. Obstructive Sleep Apnea, OSA, is the most common of the three types of sleep apnea–affecting approximately 12 million americans, according the National Institute of Health.
Sometimes patients with sleep apnea have few or no recognizable symptoms and sometimes symptoms of sleep apnea are from other conditions and not related to sleep apnea at all. Most patients experience sleep apnea for a substantial period of time before a conclusive diagnosis is made.
Significant study of the brain has conclusively identified key parts of the brain that are affected by the sleeping disorder, namely our ability to prioritize, to remember, to learn and to make decisions. Additionally, general behavior patterns and physical conditions may be influenced. These effects include;
- Daytime sleepiness
- Belligerence, irritability and moodiness
- Motivational drive
- Morning headaches
- Memory, learning and concentration problems
- Waking often, perhaps to urinate, in the night
- Waking with a dry throat or sore throat
- Snoring can also be associated with sleep apnea
These factors can make a patient suffering from sleep apnea prone to performance issues in their careers and in their personal lives.
Other Health related symptoms can include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack, heart failure
- Irregular heartbeats
- Liver Disease
- Driving or work-related accidents
Treatments and CPAP Alternatives
Sleep Apnea, though clinically described as early as the the early 20th century was not given a definitive name until the early 1980’s when traditional CPAP machines were developed to treat the condition. Though very successful at treating sleep apnea, many patients feel the machine that helps keep the airway open–by using air pressure–is constrictive and uncomfortable. Often when CPAP treatment fails long term it is because patient compliance tends to wane.
Fortunately there are other effective alternatives for treating sleep apnea that do not require machines, or a mask and are considerably less constrictive, more portable and ultimately more discreet. Namely oral appliances which help manage and improve open airways, helping maintain the airways while a patient is sleeping. A qualified dentist, who can conduct a thorough intraoral examination to assess candidacy for an oral appliance, can collaborate with the sleep physician to recommend, and then properly fit the device. The dentist will be able evaluate the patient’s teeth, jaw, and airway, determine the protrusive range of the jaw with a measuring device, and review the data of the sleep study in order to help determine the chance of success.
If you are interested in determining whether an oral device can help with your sleep apnea please call our office today.