Did you know that approximately 30 million Americans have sleep apnea? That staggering number accounts for almost 12% of the entire population, so why does it often go undiagnosed?
Sleep apnea can cause a range of medical concerns and symptoms, starting with excessive fatigue during the daytime. Finding time to schedule an appointment with a doctor or sleep disorder specialist can seem tedious. Luckily, your local dentist can help you the next time you’re in the office and offer effective, safe, and cost-friendly treatments.
If you suspect you or a loved one might be dealing with sleep apnea, keep reading our complete guide and learn more about how you can treat it!
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person momentarily stops breathing while sleeping. There are three main types of sleep apnea, including:
As the name sounds – complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central. An obstructive sleep disorder means something is partially or fully blocking your airway while you sleep.
Central sleep apnea is a bit more complex and involves how your central nervous system functions. If a clinician suspects a central sleep apnea disorder, they may refer to a specialist.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
If you sleep alone, it may be challenging recognizing some symptoms of sleep apnea. If you have a partner that has complained about your constant snoring, that is one of the first signs of sleep apnea. Rest assured – it doesn’t always mean you have a sleeping disorder, but here are more signs you may be dealing with more:
- Fatigue during the day
- Frequent awakenings during the night
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty concentrating
- Night sweats
There are two main avenues clinicians use to diagnose this sleeping disorder: physical examination and sleep studies. A physical examination is a quick and easy way for a clinician to see an obvious sign of obstruction. They may assess your upper airway, tonsils, and tongue during the examination.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
One of the main treatment options for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP). It is a mask only worn at night that uses pressurized air to help keep your airways open. Although it effectively reduces symptoms of sleep apnea, it can be costly, cumbersome, and uncomfortable.
Like a CPAP machine, a bi-level positive airway pressure matching (BiPAP) delivers constant pressure. Sometimes, the mask covers the mouth and nose and can be more expensive than a CPAP machine.
Mouthpieces and oral devices have increased in popularity (more on that down below) for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Lastly, upper airway stimulation and surgery are more invasive options that involve either a pacemaker or removal of soft tissue (e.g., tonsils, uvula) that is the cause for concern.
Dentistry and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
A dentist can easily solve some sleep apnea causes. While that may sound too simple, these skilled healthcare practitioners can provide you with dental devices that keep your upper airway open and eliminate the need for CPAP or BiPAP machines. What can oral devices treat?
- Grinding teeth
- Interrupted sleep
First, your dentist will ask about your sleep apnea symptoms and perform a physical examination. Dental devices are helpful because they are custom-fitted to your concerns.
For example, if your mandibular shifts backward, it can cause an obstruction, and advancing devices can keep your jaw forward. Other devices can keep your tongue from interfering with your airway or help you avoid grinding your teeth.
Additionally, teeth grinding is another sign of sleep apnea, and nightguards can sometimes worsen the problem. A dentist specializing in sleep apnea can perform a more thorough assessment of sleep apnea signs and recommend the best course of treatment.
The benefits of choosing a dentist for your obstructive sleep apnea concerns is that it:
- Costs less
- Decreases risk for surgery
- More comfortable
You can easily take your custom-fitted oral device with you on the go, and it will offer better comfortability than a bulky machine. Reducing your sleep apnea symptoms can also prevent other medical concerns like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
In conjunction with an oral device, your dentist may suggest other lifestyle changes that can help. For starters, exercise is a great way to lose weight and improve your oxygen levels. Being obese or overweight puts you more at risk of sleep apnea, and implementing healthy dietary changes and stopping any smoking or excessive drinking can also help.
More Than Sleep Apnea
A qualified dentist can treat more than just sleep apnea. Your smile and oral health play an essential role in your well-being and confidence.
Sometimes, poor oral health, lifestyle, and age can make you self-conscious about more than just your sleep apnea. While you are treating your sleep apnea, ask about teeth whitening services.
KöR Teeth Whitening services are offered for those living around the Los Angeles, CA region and can give you that confidence back after finally getting a good night’s rest with your new sleep apnea treatment.
Your Health Matters
Start 2022 off on the right foot by seeing your local dentist about your obstructive sleep apnea concerns. Are you not sure if you have sleep apnea?
The next time you are in the office, ask about some common signs and symptoms and have one of our skilled practitioners performs a thorough assessment. Your health and well-being are important, which is why we are one of the leading dentistry offices that provide services for sleep apnea. Contact us today and start the new year off on the right foot!