Today, the dental team at Clover Hills Dental shares how dentists can help you get diagnosed with sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder that causes pauses in your breathing while you sleep. In some cases, these pauses can happen as often as 30 times (or more) every night and can last anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing starts again after each pause, usually with a choking sound or a loud snort.
These breathing issues can have a significant impact on your quality of sleep and may cause a range of problems that can negatively impact your overall health, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack.
Sleep apnea may also increase the likelihood that you'll suffer from irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and the risk of being in a driving or workplace-related accident.
Why does sleep apnea often go undiagnosed?
Despite the symptoms described above and the fact that sleep apnea is a serious medical condition, it often goes undiagnosed as it's not something that can be easily spotted via a routine physical checkup or bloodwork.
If you've had family members or bed partners mention that you sometimes stop breathing while you sleep or that you snore loudly, we recommend booking a consultation with our team. We often act as the first line of defense when it comes to recognizing sleep apnea symptoms in our patients, and can then help you determine the next steps based on our assessment.
How can my dentist help treat my sleep apnea?
If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can offer several treatment recommendations for sleep apnea depending on your needs and whether you have mild sleep apnea or a more severe form of the disorder.
Mild Sleep Apnea
Moderate or mild sleep apnea can often be treated with simple, non-invasive options such as oral appliances or weight loss management (since being overweight is sometimes a primary cause of sleep apnea).
Severe sleep Apnea
For patients who suffer from severe sleep apnea, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine may be recommended. CPAP machines are the most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea that uses air pressure to keep the airway open while you sleep. Alternative treatment options include Inspire therapy for patients who either can't use or are unable to achieve consistent benefits with CPAP treatment.
Inspire monitors breathing while you sleep and delivers mild stimulation to the nerve controlling the tongue's movement and the movement of other muscles in the airway to prevent the airway from closing while you sleep.