There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. “Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition and the most prevalent form of sleep apnea, accounting for over 80% of sleep-related breathing disorders diagnosed in the United States.” This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring, but there are several other signs that can be present.
“Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to over 38,000 cardiovascular deaths annually.” According to the American Heart Association Scientific Statement on Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease, OSA is linked to hypertension, atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias, heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Dementia and several other diseases.
Obstructive sleep apnea is often undiagnosed and untreated but common signs and symptoms of OSA can be identified in various clinical settings, including your dental practice. At your dental visit, your dental professional should also be trained on several other oral signs of sleep apnea. Some of these include clenching, grinding, enlarged tongue, acid reflux, headaches, visibility of airway and other noticeable signs inside the oral cavity.
Your dentist does not diagnose sleep apnea, but they work collaboratively with primary care physicians and sleep specialists to assist in providing care for patients with OSA. Before any treatment options can be determined a sleep study must be performed to determine the severity of the symptoms. At Leavitt Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer an at home sleep test that can determine the severity of your sleep disturbances.
After a sleep test is performed, treatment options can be discussed. Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are available. For patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, a dental appliance for sleep apnea is a great option. According to the American Heart Association, a dental device is an “alternative to a CPAP for mild to moderate OSA or in patients who do not tolerate a CPAP. Adherence is overall greater and customized devices are associated with improved outcomes compared with off-the-shelf devices.” A dental device or oral mandibular advancement device, which prevents the tongue from blocking the throat and/or advances the lower jaw forward, can be made to help keep your airway open during sleep.
At Leavitt Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we are concerned about your overall health and well-being as we know it is linked to your oral health. That is why we are educated and offer information on obstructive sleep apnea. Call us at (208) 233-6900 to schedule an appointment where we can evaluate if you are at risk for OSA and even offer options to evaluate you for sleep disturbances which oftentimes can be treated in our office.