In this post, our dentists in Richmond discuss how dentists can help you get a sleep apnea diagnosis and resolve your concerns.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that causes shallow breaths and pauses in breathing while sleeping. These breathing pauses can last a few seconds to a few minutes and occur up to 30 times (or more) per night. After each pause, normal breathing resumes, usually with a choking sound or a loud snort.
Breathing problems, as you might expect, can disrupt your sleep and lead to several complications that can harm your overall health, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. It increases the likelihood of developing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and being involved in a car or work-related accident.
Why does sleep apnea often go undiagnosed?
Because sleep apnea cannot be detected by a blood test or during a routine checkup, it is frequently misdiagnosed. If your family or bed partner has mentioned that you snore loudly or stop breathing while sleeping, we recommend scheduling a consultation with our team. We can advise you on 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 recommend a variety of sleep apnea treatments based on your specific needs and whether you have mild or severe sleep apnea.
Mild Sleep Apnea
Simple, non-invasive options such as oral appliances or weight loss management are frequently used to treat moderate or mild sleep apnea (since being overweight is sometimes a primary cause of sleep apnea).
Our dental team can help you lose weight, which can be used in conjunction with other treatment options to help you get rid of your sleep apnea symptoms.
Severe sleep Apnea
Dentists typically recommend CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to patients who have severe sleep apnea. CPAP is the most commonly used treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and uses air pressure to keep the airway open while you sleep. Inspire therapy is a treatment option for patients who are unable or unwilling to benefit from CPAP consistently.
While you sleep, Inspire monitors your breathing and sends mild stimulation to the nerve that controls the movement of your tongue and other muscles in your airway to keep the airway open.