Dental Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Help You Live Longer!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, some form of snoring or Obstructive Sleep Apnea ( OSA ) affects 90 million Americans. About 40% of patients over the age of 40 snore and half of them snore every night. Among habitually loud snorers, the incidence of OSA is 17% in men and 15% in women. An estimated 18 million Americans have OSA and 16 million remain undiagnosed. Sleep Disordered Breathing ( SDB ), Snoring, Upper Airway Restriction Syndrome ( UARS ) are only few of many Sleep disorders humans can suffer from. Every patient, including children, are screened and referred to a Sleep Specialist, who then helps us with the diagnosis.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is associated with high risks for:
- Coronary heart disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Atrial fibrillation
- Acid reflux (GERD)
- Daytime sleepiness, fatigue, short attention span
- Increased risk of automobile crashes
- Impaired growth and bed wetting in children
- Behavioral and cognitive problems
- Bladder control problems ( at night time )
- Impotence in men
- An irritated bed partner !
What is the Cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is a sign of the airway narrowing. It can be associated with upper and lower jaw positions, narrow high palate and inadequate room for the tongue. It can effect skinny or overweight people, at any age, including babies. With weight gain the ability of the airway and tongue based musculature to expand the airway during normal respiration often declines. Narrowed airway increases the velocity of the air and a building up of a negative aspiratory pressure gradually stretch the soft tissues of the airway. When this continues, the airway is further blocked by the tongue being postured back in the throat as the person lies back during sleep. In Sleep apnea, the person can actually stop breathing for a few seconds until the protective reflexes of the body kick in the breathing resumes after a huge effort. Decreased oxygen and interrupted sleep has many deleterious effects on the body.
How can Obstructive Sleep Apnea be treated by a Dentist?
Dr. Sahota believes that Dentists play a key role in screenings, patient education and increasing the awareness about this issue. Once a sleep study is done and the proper diagnosis is obtained from the Sleep Specialist (M.D.), a plan is formulated.
It’s important to take a comprehensive approach. Here are the treatment options –
Medical Treatments :
1. Some symptoms begin to alleviate with diet and lifestyle changes to decrease congestion, allergies and inflammation, and consequently weight loss.
2. CPAP machine is the GOLD standard in the medical treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
3. Surgical Intervention :
~Surgery to remove tonsils, adenoids, uvula and soft palate( UPPP )
~Tongue surgery involves shaving off tissue
~Nasal surgery can be helpful with deviated nasal septums and turbinate problems.
~Upper and lower jaws can be surgically repositioned ( advanced ) forwards to make room for the airway.
Non-surgical dental treatments :
*Mild to moderate cases, an oral appliance is indicated that helps reposition the lower jaw forwards to allow the tongue to posture away from the throat. Here’s an example of an appliance for snoring and sleep apnea:
Orthopedic and Orthodontic treatment :
Sometimes the space available for the tongue to posture correctly in the mouth is inadequate, due to underdeveloped palate and narrow arches. Proper development of upper jaw and alignment of teeth and both jaws is very critical so the tongue can function optimally during speech & swallowing and rest well. It’s important to address issues like tongue thrust and tongue tie.
Orthodontic treatment with myofunctional appliances are used to correct such problems. A simple laser procedure can correct tongue tie painlessly.
Dr. Sahota is very meticulous about advanced training in the field of sleep medicine. A visit to our office has made a profound effect on the overall health of the patients who were unaware of this problem, which makes our daily work very rewarding.