Sleep Apnea

January 06, 2014 | Posted in Education | Be the first one to comment

Do you sleep eight glorious hours and feel rejuvenated, ready to take on all opportunities and challenges of the day?  Sleep related breathing disorders (SRBDs) such as mild snoring and sleep that is disrupted because a person stops breathing hundreds of times during the night is a major medical cause of poor sleep .  When the airway becomes blocked during sleep and someone stops breathing for more than ten seconds, it is called an apneic episode.  Symptoms of SRBDs include excessive sleepiness, impaired concentration and serious systemic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, bronchitis and depression.  Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a type of breathing disorder that affects about twelve million Americans. 
Surprisingly enough, we may be able to help you get the restful sleep you need.  Most people see their dentist more routinely than their physician so, often, the signs and symptoms of OSA can be first detected during a dental exam.  We can also diagnosis bruxism, a type of teeth grinding associated with disruptions in sleep patterns.  Acid reflux is another common medical condition that affects the health of teeth and is often found in conjunction with sleep apnea. In my practice I’ve seen multiple instances where I’ve been able to help people overcome these issues.
Diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders is a complex task which must be made by a properly trained sleep physician and we can refer you to a great one!  An all-night sleep study (a polysomnogram) at a sleep disorder clinic will be needed in order to obtain a proper diagnosis.  Treatment decisions should be made as a “Sleep Medicine Team” with the sleep physician, the dentist and the patient.  Since 1984, Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) devices have been used as the standard of care to treat sleep apnea patients.  In recent years the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has begun advocating the use of small, custom fit dental device in patients with mild to moderate OSA.  These dental devices can also be backup treatment options for patients on vacation or in case of CPAP machine breakdown or used in combination with them. We have training in this field can work with you and your physician to find the best possible solutions for you. 
So how do you know if you may be at risk for a SRBD? There are some simple screening questions that you should consider.  While it is possible to have these risk factors without sleep apnea, some common screening questions include: Do you snore?  Do you have a large neck size or high blood pressure?  Has someone witnessed you stop breathing during sleep?  If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you should discuss the matter with one of your health care providers.  Your life could depend on it! For a more detailed look at your sleep health, take our online “Epworth Sleepiness Evaluation” under FORMS on our home page or click


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