Sweet dreams: Sleep Medicine can help combat Sleep Apnea

“I don’t snore.” “Oh, no, not me!”

That’s exactly what we said until we got tested ourselves. It turns out that we, like millions of others, are afflicted with one of the nation’s most serious, yet overlooked, health issues: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Apnea literally means “cessation of breath,” an often life-threatening issue that can be resolved with oral appliance therapy.

At Mitchell Dentistry, the goal of sleep apnea treatment is to achieve healthy sleep.

At Mitchell Dentistry, the goal of sleep apnea treatment is to achieve healthy sleep.

We realized we had to get over any trepidation or embarrassment and learn how to deal with this issue. So we attended several continuing education classes and now know how to diagnose and in many cases, treat sleep apnea. First we learned how to administer a home sleep test that is read by a certified sleep physician. A copy of the report along with a recommendation is sent to the patient’s regular doctor. For mild to moderate cases, and even for some serious cases when the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is not tolerated, we can customize a sleep appliance that has demonstrated evidence-based positive results with many of our patients.

We learned about the severity of sleep apnea and strongly encourage our patients to get tested if you suspect anything. In fact, a study by The American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that moderate to severe OSA is independently associated with an increased risk of stroke, cancer and death. Results of a 20-year follow-up study show that people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea were four times more likely to die, nearly four times more likely to have a stroke, three times more likely to die from cancer, and 2.5 times more likely to develop cancer.

We want to protect our patients! So for those who snore or wake themselves gasping for breath, please let us assess if a dental appliance is the best course of action that can help you or your loved one. Ask us more about it when you come in.

All the best from Mitchell Dentistry!



How can a Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common problem with potentially serious consequences, but once it’s diagnosed it’s a relatively simple condition to treat. If you have mild sleep apnea, you may even be able to obtain a simple device from your dentist that will effectively treat the problem.

About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway becomes partially or fully blocked during sleep. When this happens air can’t enter the lungs, and this causes oxygen deprivation, which in turn causes the sleeper to wake up, often gasping for breath. Someone with sleep apnea may wake up anywhere from a few times a night to dozens of times every hour, and they tend not to feel refreshed when they wake up from sleep. The cardiovascular system is stressed due to lack of sleep and oxygen, leading to increased risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.
Sleep apnea is thought to be a common problem among American adults. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that as many as 22 million people are affected, but more than 16 million people, most of whom have a relatively mild form of the condition, have not been diagnosed. Even mild sleep apnea can be harmful, however, so diagnosis and treatment is still important.

How Your Dentist Can Help

If you have sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend you use a machine called a CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The device prevents airway blockage by blowing air continuously into the throat, and includes a mask that is worn on the face while sleeping. People with severe sleep apnea typically need to wear a CPAP machine in order to prevent airway blockage and oxygen deprivation, but people with mild to moderate apnea do have alternatives.
One such alternative is a mouthpiece that can be fitted and created by your dentist. They’re similar to the mouth-guards worn by people who play contact sports, but instead of being worn for protection, they’re designed to alter the position of your lower jaw and tongue. This adjustment helps keep your airway open, and ensure that your breathing isn’t interrupted while you sleep. Wearing the mouthpiece can feel a little odd, and it takes some getting used to, but overall they’re much easier to wear than the CPAP face mask—and a little bit of short-term discomfort is definitely worth the health benefits of treating the sleep apnea.
Find out more information on dental apparatus for sleep apnea by calling James Mitchell, DDS today!