Why Do Sleep Apnea Patients Require Help from Their Dentist as Well?
When we talk about sleep apnea, we actually talk about a potentially dangerous and life-threatening sleep disorder. Affecting both men and women, although men are more commonly predisposition to this sleep disorder, sleep apnea actually brings a lot of difficulties into the lives of these patients. From feeling tired in the morning and being unable to complete your everyday activities and plans, to suffering from a headache in the morning and waking up everyone with your loud snoring – sleep apnea really does get the worse from you. So how do a dentist and his practice fit this picture? Yes, we knew that it is a bit strange involving a dentist in the treatment plan for sleep apnea, especially if you are hearing about such thing for the very first time. What can your dentist do to help you conquer your sleep apnea symptoms? Have you ever heard of using dental appliances to treat the symptoms of sleep apnea and reduce the risks that this dangerous sleep disorder brings? If your answer is no, then join us in today’s article where we will explain everything about the link between sleep apnea and dentistry that you need to know about! We promise that until the end of today’s article, you will know everything that there is to know about this strange yet highly beneficial link between dentistry and a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea is!
What is there to know about sleep apnea?
As we mentioned in the introduction, sleep apnea is potentially a dangerous sleep disorder that is quite common nowadays. Although there is no clear known cause of sleep apnea, there are some risk factors that are commonly included in the occurrence and development of this common sleep disorder. The risk factors[i] for sleep apnea include smoking, long use of alcohol and drugs, obesity and a family history involving a family member or members that might have suffered from sleep apnea as well. Other risk factors are included as well. There are three different types of sleep apnea – all caused by different causes, however, what we are interested in the most is the existence of the obstructive type of sleep apnea. The obstructive sleep apnea occurs whenever the throat muscles relax during your sleep which blocks your airway, as a result, to which your breathing stops and starts repeatedly during your sleep. The most obvious symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is loud snoring, which sometimes even wakes up the patient who continues to sleep afterward, in most cases not even being aware of the interrupted sleep. Despite the loud snoring, other symptoms which are included are fatigue, morning headaches, choking or gasping sounds during the sleep, silent pauses in breathing during the sleep, and even insomnia. Surprisingly, the symptoms of sleep apnea are not the only thing which is hard to deal with. There are many health risks which are known to increase due to the presence of sleep apnea in a person’s life, making this condition to pose as a life-threatening one. Sleep apnea has been known to increase the risk of stroke, cancer[ii], diabetes and cardiovascular disease[iii] among these patients, putting their lives in danger. Knowing all the symptoms and health risks that come with the occurrence of sleep apnea, it is of a vital importance to treat this condition as soon as possible and the best we can and know how to. The diagnosis of sleep apnea is quite easy in most cases – usually, an evaluation of the symptoms is made as well as monitoring of your breathing and other body functions during your sleep. The treatment includes lifestyle changes – quitting smoking is a must, use of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and dental appliances of which we will talk about in a little while. The most severe cases of sleep apnea require surgery to be performed.
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The link between sleep apnea and dentistry
Nowadays, the standard treatment plan for sleep apnea involves using CPAP devices – continuous positive airway pressure. However, it has been suggested that around 25 to 50% of the patients with sleep apnea are not compatible with this kind of treatment. That is where your dentist comes in. Luckily for those 25 to 50% of patients, there is another thing that they get to try and enjoy the positive effects. The other treatment plan involves using dental appliances[iv], prescribed by your dentist and created individually for each patient. Although CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) has been considered to be more effective as compared with dental appliances, after all, dental appliances have been reported easier to be used by patients. Dental appliances are usually prescribed for patients with moderate [v]obstructive sleep apnea. They involve a device that is similar to dental braces that the patient is supposed to use during his/her sleep. This device is able to keep the airway open and stop the tongue from blocking the airway during the sleep process. The use of dental appliances is possible the best treatment option for moderate obstructive sleep apnea since it is a safe, non-invasive method that will result in reduced symptoms and most importantly, reduced risks towards your health. There are different types of dental appliances which you will try on at your dentist’s office until you find the one type that is working the best for you. Afterward, the dentist will have the oral appliance designed just for you and you can start using it regularly in just a few days! Afterward, you will be required to check in with your dentist and doctor to determine the effects of your use of the dental appliances since there might be a need for certain changes to be performed. You might find yourself in the need to change the type of your dental appliances and that is okay. You have to make sure that the dental appliances that you are using are achieving the effects that you are supposed to get with its use and nothing less. By using dental appliances, these patients are able to get a good night sleep without having to deal with the loud snoring, fatigue, irritability and all of the health risks that come with obstructive sleep apnea. That is why, we kindly recommend you consulting your doctor about a possible use of dental appliances so that you can, once and for all, conquer your sleep apnea symptoms for good.
If you are suffering from the annoying symptoms of sleep apnea, then you might want to look into using dental appliances to treat your sleep apnea. It might sound a bit strange, but according to the most recent studies and researchers, it has been shown that the use of dental appliances will definitely help you get rid of not only the symptoms of sleep apnea but also the life-threading symptoms that this serious health condition brings. Lately, dental appliances for sleep apnea has been the number one topic to talk about among the patients with sleep apnea and their doctors – and with a good reason, that is. The use of dental appliances will keep your airway open all throughout your sleep, enabling you to get some quality rest while you actually keep on breathing during. You might not believe it, but soon after you start using dental appliances you will feel the changes that will come as you get some good night sleep and leave all the fatigue, headaches, and loud snoring far behind you once and for all. Go ahead and talk with your doctor about the possibility of using dental appliances in your case and give this promising, effective treatment a try. You will never look back again.
[i] Al Lawati NM, Patel SR, Ayas NT, (2009), Epidemiology, risk factors, and consequences of obstructive sleep apnea and short sleep duration, Progress in cardiovascular diseases 51(4):285-93
[ii] Gozal D, Ham SA, Mokhlesi B, (2016), Sleep apnea and cancer: Analysis of a nationwide population sample, Sleep 39(8):1493-500
[iii] Monahan K, Redline S, (2011), Role of obstructive sleep apnea in cardiovascular disease, Current Opinion in Cardiology 26(6):541-7
[iv] Sutherland K, Vanderveken OM, Tsuda H, Marklund M, Gagnadoux F, Kushida CA, Cistulli PA, (2014), Oral appliance treatment for obstructive sleep apnea: an update, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 10(2):215-27
[v] Giannasi LC, Almeida FR, Nacif SR, de Oliveira LV, (2013), Efficiency of an oral appliance for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, The International Journal of Prosthodontics 26(4):334-9