In this post, our dentists at Willowbrook Dental Clinic discuss how dentists can help you get diagnosed with sleep apnea and find answers to your questions.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder characterized by shallow breaths and breathing pauses during sleep. These breathing pauses can occur up to 30 times (or more) per night and can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Following each pause, normal breathing resumes, usually with a choking sound or a loud snort.
As you might imagine, these breathing problems can significantly disrupt your sleep and may result in a variety of complications that can have a detrimental effect on your overall health, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. It may increase your risk of developing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and of being involved in a driving or work-related accident.
Why does sleep apnea often go undiagnosed?
Because sleep apnea cannot be detected by a blood test or detected during a routine checkup, it often goes undiagnosed. If your family or bed partner has mentioned that you snore loudly or stop breathing while sleeping, we recommend booking a consultation with our team. We can help you determine the next steps based on our assessment of your patient's sleep apnea symptoms.
How can my dentist help treat my sleep apnea?
If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can offer several options for sleep apnea treatments depending on your needs and whether you have mild sleep apnea or a more severe form of the disorder.
Mild Sleep Apnea
Simple, non-invasive options such as oral appliances or weight loss management can often be used to treat moderate or mild sleep apnea (since being overweight is sometimes a primary cause of sleep apnea).
Our dental team can assist you with the weight loss process, which may be used in conjunction with other treatment options to alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms.
Severe sleep Apnea
For patients with severe sleep apnea, we offer CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), the most widely used treatment for obstructive sleep apnea that uses air pressure to keep the airway open while you sleep. Inspire therapy is an alternative treatment option for patients who cannot or do not achieve consistent benefits from CPAP treatment.
Inspire monitors your breathing while you sleep and delivers mild stimulation to the nerve controlling the movement of your tongue and other muscles in your airway to keep the airway open while you sleep.