According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, over 25 million adults in America are affected by Sleep apnea. The number is increasing, and the health risks associated with this condition are extremely dangerous. This problem has led to great concern among healthcare professionals and doctors in the country, and they have been working together to develop effective solutions to help the patients fight it.
Patients with sleep apnea have a wide range of treatment options to choose from. The majority of the patients have also been able to combat and overcome this issue. With the right treatment, you can overcome all the health issues associated with this condition.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can be a potential and very serious life-threatening disorder. It affects millions of people today, and the numbers are increasing by the day. When an individual is having sleep apnea episodes, the person will stop breathing for a minimum of 10 seconds. The severity of this case varies from one individual to another, and people usually experience somewhere between 10 and 60 episodes in one night. Sleep apnea treatment usually involves dentists, surgeons, general physicians, and sleep specialists.
As the number of patients with sleep apnea keeps increasing, the medical community, including dentists and sleep clinicians, are working to find more effective solutions. In this guide, we will explain to you a dentist’s vital role in treating sleep apnea.
Types of sleep apnea
There are three different types of sleep apnea, and they are: Obstructive apnea (OSA) Central sleep apnea A combination of obstructive apnea and central apnea
Obstructive apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, and it is mostly caused when the muscles in the throat walls are too relaxed, causing a collapse of the airway. The second type of sleep apnea, central apnea, happens due to the failure of the brain to signal the muscles to breathe. Many people with this condition do not usually remember the episodes. As such, loved ones are usually the first to recognize the signs.
If you are sleeping with someone, and you hear loud snoring, which is then interrupted by pauses and then accompanied by choking sounds as the person continues to breathe, chances are sleep apnea is the problem. Here are other symptoms of sleep apnea:
Extreme daytime fatigue Irritability Waking up with a dry mouth, headache, and sore throat Insomnia.
A dentist’s role in treating sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is increasingly becoming a threat to Americans, and the health risks associated with it are very dangerous. As a result, dentists and doctors are working together to find a solution to this issue. Dentists play a very important role in treating sleep apnea, as they diagnose patients suffering from sleep-related breathing disorders. By getting the full medical history of a patient, a dentist can easily spot symptoms and direct them to the right doctor.
After the physical evaluation, sleep test, and diagnosis, the dentist can determine the best possible solution to the person’s issue. One of the effective treatment solutions is an oral device. However, only trained and experienced dentists in this field can provide the right oral device and determine if the treatment solution will be effective for a patient.
As the sleep apnea treatment of the patient is ongoing, the dentist will be communicating with the physician to monitor the progress of the treatment and to make sure the patient is getting the best treatment.
Importantly, dentists play a key role in evaluating patients with obstructive apnea for the suitability of OAT (Oral Appliance Therapy), selecting the appropriate OAT appliance, adjusting it, and assessing the patient for adverse effects. However, a dentist usually works with a physician to accomplish this part.
Diagnosis of sleep apnea
After consulting your dentist, they may refer you to a sleep specialist or physician who may carry out polysomnography — an overnight sleep study. This sleep study will measure several parameters such as your blood oxygen level, heart rate, and the number of times you experience interrupted breathing while sleeping. It is after the confirmation of this result that your dentist will help to find the best possible solution for your condition while working alongside a physician to ensure that you get the appropriate treatment therapies.
Some dental appliances that have proven helpful for some sleep apnea patients are those that reposition the tongue and lower jaw. Other remedies for patients with mild sleep apnea include losing weight, avoid sleeping on the back, and quitting smoking.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is another solution for sleep apnea patients, and this procedure delivers air via a small mask covering the nose. It releases a continuous pressure that helps to keep the airway open. Maxillofacial and oral surgeons can also carry out some surgical procedures to open the airway, and such surgeries may be recommended to some sleep apnea patients in extreme cases.
The benefits of oral appliances
Oral appliances are highly beneficial for sleep apnea patients that meet the approved criteria. This treatment option is not expensive. Though the adjustable models tend to cost more, they are still cheaper than CPAP machines. The side effects of oral appliances are very few, and they are specially designed for patients. Their custom designs also make them more comfortable for patients, as they fit perfectly in the mouth.
However, some patients may find it difficult to get used to them. Nevertheless, the same issue is associated with CPAP machines. CPAP machines are even more difficult to get used to. With oral appliances, patients will not experience the risks associated with sleep apnea-related surgery. The major advantage of oral appliances is their effectiveness. It has been clinically proven that oral appliances can prevent apneas, and it works faster and more effectively when the patients adhere to the instruction and recommendations of their dentist.
Sleep apnea is very dangerous, and it can increase the chances of several other severe health complaints. It can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. So, once you notice this issue in a loved one or yourself, you should consult an orthodontic specialist immediately.