Today, our Surrey dentists answer the question of whether dentists can help you get a diagnosis of sleep apnea and find answers to your questions.
What is sleep apnea?
This sleep-related breathing disorder causes shallow breathing and pauses in breathing while a person sleeps. These breathing pauses can happen as often as 30 times (or more) each night and may last anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. After each pause, normal breathing begins again, typically with a loud snort or choking sound.
As you might imagine, breathing issues during sleep can have a significant negative impact on your general physical health, such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke and increased risk of high blood pressure. It may also increase your risk of being involved in a workplace or driving-related accident or the likelihood that you'll experience an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
Why does sleep apnea often go undiagnosed?
Despite the concerning symptoms described above and the fact that sleep apnea is a serious medical condition, it's possible for it to go undiagnosed as your doctor will not be able to detect it during a regular checkup or via a blood test. If you've had bed partners or family members mention that you tend to stop breathing while you sleep or that you snore loudly, we recommend scheduling a consultation with our team.
When it comes to recognizing potential symptoms of sleep apnea in our patients, we often serve as the first line of defense and can help you determine next steps to take based on our assessment.
How can my dentist help treat my sleep apnea?
If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a doctor or other medical professional, your dentist at Cloverdale Crossing Dental Group can offer several treatment options for sleep apnea depending on your needs and whether you have mild sleep apnea or a more severe type of the disorder.
Mild Sleep Apnea
Mild or moderate sleep apnea can often be treated with simple, non-invasive options such as weight loss management (since being overweight is sometimes a primary cause of sleep apnea) or oral appliances.
Our dental team can help you navigate the process, potentially in addition to other treatments to help relieve your sleep apnea symptoms.
Severe Sleep Apnea
Patients who suffer from severe sleep apnea may need CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) — the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, which uses air pressure to prevent the airway from closing while you sleep. Alternative treatment options include other forms of therapy for patients who either use or are unable to achieve consistent benefits with CPAP treatment.
Inspire therapy monitors breathing as you sleep and delivers mild stimulation to the nerve that controls the tongue's movement, as well as the movement of other muscles in the airway to keep the airway open while you sleep.