Are you tired all the time? Do you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep? Do you snore loudly? You may have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that can be treated at Grants Ferry Family Dentistry.
What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious and life-long medical condition that can impact every aspect of your life. It is defined by the blockage of the airway while you sleep, causing breathing to repeatedly stop and start.
One of the most common signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is loud, chronic, and ongoing snoring. Pauses may occur in the snoring along with choking or gasping. These brief periods of breathing cessation disrupt sleep long enough to lead to persistent sleepiness during the day. Most will not notice or be aware of breathing problems while they sleep, much less the severity of the problem. Often a family member or bed partner will notice and suffer as a result of being kept awake from loud, persistent snoring.
However, it is important to note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea! Other symptoms include headaches, fatigue, difficulty staying asleep, waking up multiple times throughout night, difficulty with concentration, memory problems, weight gain, depression or mood changes, sexual dysfunction, and sore throat or dry mouth upon waking.
Dangers of Unmanaged Sleep Apnea
Due to the reduction in oxygen levels and sleep deprivation, untreated OSA can have serious and life-shortening consequences, such as, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, plus a significantly higher risk of accidents, including those in the workplace and while driving.
How Can my Dentist Help?
In the past, the first step was to refer patients to a sleep physician. Unfortunately, many individuals are hesitant to go this route, as it often requires overnight sleep studies at inconvenient locations.
With the expansion of dental sleep medicine, it’s now possible for dentists to send patients a home-based sleep study. These sleep studies record the necessary data for a professional diagnosis. The data is then sent to a licensed sleep physician who makes a diagnosis.
After the Diagnosis
The first line of therapy for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Unfortunately, many patients are not tolerant to CPAP or the idea of CPAP, finding it cumbersome and / or uncomfortable. Patient compliance is a significant issue.
Here is where the dental experts come in! The use of oral appliances is a noninvasive therapy that pulls the lower jaw slightly forward, enlarging the airway and relaxing the muscles to prevent soft tissue from collapsing and blocking the airway. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral-appliance therapy as a first-line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA. The AASM also recommends oral appliances for patients with severe OSA who are unable to tolerate or cannot wear other forms of treatment, such as CPAP. Oral appliances for the management of OSA is covered by most health insurance plans. Recent research has found that approximately 70% of patients with OSA respond well to treatment with oral appliances. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4513263/)
Here are a few reasons why your dentist should be screening for sleep apnea:
- The oral anatomy presents multiple signs of sleep apnea, including the size and shape of the tongue and palate, specific wear patterns of the teeth, and restricted airway.
- Many people visit their dentist more frequently than their primary care doctor, necessitating the need for dentists to play an active role in the comprehensive health and well being of patients.
- Mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea can often be managed with oral appliance therapy alone, and like all other dental work, your dentist should ensure that the treatment is effective, and the appliance is maintained.
- Beginning in 2017, the American Dental Association began recommending that ALL dentists screen for sleep apnea.
Sleep Services at Grants Ferry Family Dentistry
At Grants Ferry Family Dentistry, we are pleased to offer sleep apnea correction services. If you or a loved one think you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, we can help your screening and treatment be an effortless process.
- Get screened. Home sleep tests are available to make testing as easy as possible.
- Consult with Dr. Green and her team of sleep advocates. With many hours of education in the treatment of sleep apnea, the team at GFFD will find what line of therapy is best for you.
- Get fitted for an appliance. If appliance therapy is right for you, digital scans will be captured to fabricate your custom appliance.
- Follow up. Bring your appliance to all future dental appointments for maintenance.
Don’t ignore the symptoms! Schedule your sleep consultation today.