What Does A Dentist Have To Do With Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which people actually stop breathing during sleep. What would a dentist have to do with a medical condition like obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax during sleep. These relaxed tissues drop back, effectively blocking the airway. When the airway is partially blocked we hear snoring. When the airway is completely blocked we hear silence, until, gasping for air the sleeper wakens to begin breathing again.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight, having a large neck size, being male, and being over age 50. Signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep and extreme daytime sleepiness. Most sleep apnea sufferers do not know they have this condition — they just know they feel lousy and tired all of the time, even after a full night of sleep.

Most people think that sleep apnea and snoring aren’t serious. Wrong conclusion because untreated sleep apnea can lead to stroke, heart attack or early death. Sleep apnea makes it more likely you will develop dementia, hard a harder time concentrating and if you are diabetic, it may make it more difficult to manage blood sugar. Snoring is no laughing matter either. Studies have shown that the vibration from chronic snoring can damage the arteries in the neck over time.

How do you know if you have sleep apnea? The first step is a screening and then a sleep test. While sleep apnea can be treated by a dentist using an oral appliance, it must first be diagnosed by a sleep physician after an overnight sleep study. Don’t want to sleep in a strange bed? Home sleep studies are becoming more common and many insurance companies are beginning to cover the cost of home studies.

Treating your sleep apnea using an oral appliance is as simple as popping a small device, resembling a mouthguard or orthodontic retainer, into your mouth before sleep. No masks, no hoses and no electricity needed. Oral appliances are comfortable and have much higher rates of patient compliance than CPAP according to several studies.

Find out if you are a candidate for sleep apnea treatment using an oral appliance by contacting Dr. John Highsmith in Asheville, NC today at 828-627-9282.

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Posted in: Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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