Screening for Sleep Apnea Indicators and Effective Treatment Options
Did you know that nearly 6 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea? While that number seems staggering, there are an estimated 23.5 million currently undiagnosed cases. With the frequency of patient visits to the dental office, we can play a vital role in the early detection of sleep apnea by screening for specific indicators. At Albrecht Family Dentistry in West Bend, Wisconsin, our team is knowledgeable about sleep apnea symptoms and, in some cases, can even offer an effective alternative to CPAP treatment.
Why Dentists Are Important to Identifying Undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the blockage of the upper airway while you sleep. There are a few reasons that dental practitioners can be very effective in the pre-diagnosis of OSA. For starters, dentists typically see patients more frequently than a primary care doctor. In addition, patients are positioned in the dental chair in a way that allows a dentist to observe the structures of the upper airway while screening for other health conditions.
Screening for sleep apnea indicators at our practice is a quick, simple way for us to identify a patient who may be undiagnosed and offer treatment options that can significantly improve the quality of life.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing OSA, including obesity, age, gender, hormones, pregnancy, and lifestyle factors. OSA is more common in men than women, and obesity affects a high percentage of individuals with the condition.
OSA symptoms can vary by individual, and many may be unaware of their occurrence. Excessive snoring is often reported by an individuals’ partner. Other symptoms may include daytime sleepiness, headaches, GERD, depression, difficulty focusing, and irritability.
Dental treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the gold standard of treatment, there are often issues with proper patient compliance. Oral appliances such as a sleep apnea mouthguard can be an excellent option for many mild to moderate cases of OSA. In fact, studies by both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine have recommended the approach of oral appliance therapy as an effective sleep apnea treatment without CPAP.
Oral appliance therapy works by correctly positioning the mandible area in a forward position to reduce the collapse in the airway during sleep that leads to OSA.
To learn more about screening for sleep apnea, call Albrecht Family Dentistry in West Bend, WI, at (262) 338-6622.
Do you snore excessively? Do you suffer from daytime fatigue? Do you awake during the night with shortness of breath? You may suffer from the life-threatening sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. About 1 in every 15 Americans suffer from sleep apnea and it is a problem that many don’t even realize they might have. But what does this have to do with dentistry? Because sleep apnea is caused by an airway obstruction, the disorder can be treated through the mouth. The Thorton adjustable positioner, or Tap appliance is one of the more popular ways to treat sleep apnea. When the jawbone yes lax, the tongue and soft tissue obstruct the airway. The tap appliance advances the jaw bone, allowing the air to flow freely and making sleep more restful throughout the night. If you think you might suffer from sleep apnea, talk to your dentist today about possible treatment options.