Sleep Apnea

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Choosing a Dentist for Sleep Apnea Treatment

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can be serious medical problems. Improperly treated obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Choosing a sleep-disorders dentist who is qualified to work with your physician is essential to your health or the health of a loved one.

The dentist you choose to treat your problem with sleep disordered breathing must be properly educated and with adequate experience. Legally, any dentist can treat snoring and/or sleep apnea with an oral appliance, however, that does not mean that every dentist has the necessary experience and training to provide proper therapy. Because no special qualifications are required it is your responsibility to choose your dentist wisely.  A qualified sleep-disorders dentist should have:

  • Appropriate knowledge of sleep medicine
  • Adequate training in oral appliance therapy
  • Experience with many different appliance types
  • Solid relationships with local sleep labs and sleep physicians
  • Current knowledge of emerging trends
  • Ability to derive maximum insurance benefits for you
  • A team approach with other professionals
  • A proven follow-up system to ensure healthy results long-term
  • In-depth knowledge of oral appliance research

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical problem that has been associated with cardiac problems, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, ED, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, and numerous other medical problems. Neither snoring nor sleep apnea should be taken lightly, as your health is at stake. Recent research is beginning to explore the complex interrelationships between sleep apnea and these other medical problems. Management by a dentist should always involve interaction with your family physician, cardiologist, pulmonologist and/or endocrinologist.

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snoring is no joke...

Almost half of adults snore. And the problem is worse with overweight persons.

Snoring occurs when there is a partial obstruction to the free flow of air through the mouth and nose. The sound occurs when loose structures in the throat, like the uvula and soft palate, vibrate as air passes over them. Snoring can get worse when the muscles in the back of the throat are too relaxed either from drugs that induce sleep or alcohol consumption. Snoring can also be caused by a large uvula and soft palate, nasal congestion, a deviated septum or other obstructions in the nasal and pharyngeal airways.In children, large tonsils and adenoids can be the cause of snoring. Pregnant women snore because of a narrowing of the airway and increased weight.

can snoring be serious?

Snoring can be serious both socially and medically.

Snoring can disrupt marriages and cause sleepless nights for bed partners.

Medically, snoring can be the precursor of obstructive sleep apnea that has been linked to heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. In its own right, snoring has been linked to Type II Diabetes. Sleep apnea usually interrupts loud snoring with a period of silence in which no air passes into the lungs. eventually the lack of oxygen and the increase carbon dioxide will awaken you forcing the airway to open with a loud gasp.

ask your physician or dentist

You may not be aware of your snoring but your bed partner is! Seeking professional advice can help you both because snoring not only causes disruption in sleep it can also be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.

If your child snores, speak to your pediatrician about the problem. Nose and throat problems as well as obesity may be the cause. Treating these conditions could help your child sleep better at night and help your child's mental and physical development to stay on track.

severity of snoring

Snoring is often graded from your bed partner's point of view:

  • Grade 1: Heard only if you listen close to the face
  • Grade 2: Heard in the bedroom
  • Grade 3: Heard just outside the bedroom with the door open
  • Grade 4: Heard outside the bedroom with the door closed

complications of snoring

Snoring may be more than a nuisance. Untreated snoring can increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. In children, snoring may increase the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
treatment of snoring

If losing weight and changing sleep position don't help, your physician or dentist may suggest

  • Surgery to remove excess tissue in the back of the throat
  • Laser surgery to remove some excess tissue from the uvula and soft palate
  • Somnoplasty - a radio frequency signal used to reduce volume of tissues in the soft palate or tongue
  • Strips implanted in the soft palate to stiffen it
  • CPAP - this is positive air pressure applied through a pressurized mask over the nose.
  • Oral appliance therapy - Dental appliances are specially constructed appliances much like a sports guard or some orthodontic appliances that will either hold the tongue forward or advance the lower jaw forward to open the airway in the back of your throat.

what you can do for yourself

To prevent or lessen snoring, try this:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight - Being overweight is the most likely cause of snoring.
  • Sleep on your side not on your back. Sewing a tennis ball in the back of a t-shirt can remind you not to sleep on your back.
  • See a physician if you have chronic nasal congestion or obstruction
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before you go to bed - Alcohol and sedatives can relax the muscles in the back of the throat and lead to snoring. In addition, they can increase the duration of apneic events by dulling your brain's activity that signals you to awaken and restart to breathe.

Contact our office for more information about Sleep Apnea Treatment.