Did you know that dentists can help sleep physicians treat sleep apnea? Read on for a quick sleep apnea Q&A with Virginia Family Dentistry’s Dr. Pete Appleby.
What is sleep apena?
Sleep apnea is basically prolonged pauses in breathing during sleep. Depending on the severity, this can contribute to many different health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
Snoring is a good indicator someone may suffer from apnea, but doesn’t necessarily mean someone has sleep apnea. The only way to know if you have the condition is to be evaluated by a sleep physician via a sleep study. Breathing and other vital signs are monitored while asleep during the study. If a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, they will typically be prescribed with a C-PAP machine or an oral appliance.
Who is a candidate for oral appliances?
It’s important to be screened by a dentist for issues with your teeth, gums, or TMJ. All need to be healthy before starting oral-appliance therapy. From a dental standpoint though, a dentist should be able to fit an oral appliance on just about any patient who’s been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a sleep physician. Even patients with no teeth can be fit with an oral appliance.
How does an oral appliance work?
Deep relaxation and sleep can cause the airway to become partially or fully obstructed. Oral Sleep appliances fit by a dentist enable the teeth and jaw to comfortably support the airway during sleep; keeping the airway open. Just about everyone has heard someone snoring. This is the sound of partial obstruction. In some people it’s harmless, unless of course you have to be in the same room sleeping with them!
Why did you start treating sleep apnea?
The medical and dental field is finally realizing the impact this condition has on our patient’s health. It’s satisfying to help patients get off their C-PAP or just to simply get a better night’s sleep; that alone can change someone’s life!