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How Can a Dentist Give You a Better Night's Sleep?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), somewhere between 50-70 million adult Americans suffer from some sort of sleep or wakefulness disorder, and the number of car crashes due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel is on the rise. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) estimates that 25 million Americans are not getting a good night’s sleep due to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). At Dentalways, we recommend Oral Appliance Therapy as a noninvasive alternative to traditional OSA treatments.

How Can a Dentist Give You a Better Night's Sleep?

So, what is OSA? In patients with OSA, the body’s alpha brain waves wake the body during sleep in response to lack of breathing, which then results in a deficit of the delta brain wave cycle that constitute the restorative phase of sleep. This can happen as often as every two to three minutes throughout a sleeping period. In cases of chronic obstructive sleep apnea, the breathing stops due to the relaxation of soft tissues in the nose and throat blocking the airway.

Left untreated, lack of sleep and poor sleep quality creates increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed? Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by a sleep medicine specialist who will have you participate in an overnight sleep study that can be performed at home or under observation in a sleep lab. During the sleep study, devices monitor blood oxygen levels, breathing, and movements during sleep.

What are the treatment options? For treatment, surgery and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are the standard of care recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Surgery. Many patients find surgery to be an attractive option because it offers a “one-and-done” solution compared to conservative measures like losing weight, wearing a CPAP device or Oral Appliance every night, but all surgeries come with risks. The goal of surgery is to eliminate the cause of the airway obstruction and/or preventing the collapse of the airway. Dependent upon the anatomical cause of the sleep apnea, surgical options could include: correction of a deviated septum, nasal airway surgery, tongue reduction, tongue repositioning, palatal and pharayngeal surgery, hyoid suspension, palate implants, and bariatric surgery.

CPAP. A CPAP machine provides a continuous stream of steady air pressure into the airways to prevent it from collapsing. The machine pumps the air through a hose into a mask or nose piece that fastens around the back of the head. While satisfactory to many, some patients do not tolerate CPAP well due to feelings of claustrophobia, dry nose and mouth, and difficulty tolerating forced air.

Oral Appliance Therapy. When the airway obstruction is related to the mouth, such as an oversized or floppy tongue, enlarged tonsils or uvula, the dentist can provide you with a mandibular orthotic device similar to a night guard that can reposition the jaw to maintain the open airway, enabling you to get back to a refreshing night’s sleep.

For a consultation, contact Dentalways at 504-954-9330.

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