Thursday, January 22, 2015

How Can the Dentist Help with Sleep Apnea?

            More people than ever before are being diagnosed with sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder when your breathing starts and stops. Some of the initial signs and symptoms can be snoring or still feeling tired after a full night of sleep. The proper way to be diagnosed is to undergo a sleep study under the supervision of a sleep physician. From there, they can help determine whether a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or an oral appliance is needed.
            The most important thing to remember is treatment should begin with the physician. Even though a dentist can help identify some key factors of sleep apnea, it is important that a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan is done with a medical doctor. Here are some examples of when you may be directed to try an oral appliance to help treat your sleep apnea:
  • You have attempted to use a CPAP, and have been unable to tolerate it.
  • You have a mild form of sleep apnea and the physician believes it can be adequately controlled with an oral appliance.
  • Your apnea is so severe that it requires a CPAP and an oral appliance to adequately control.
  • You don’t like to travel with your CPAP, and you need something to help your apnea while out of town.

Whatever the reason may be, it is just as important to do a follow up sleep study after receiving the appliance. This is the only way to measure how it is helping you and if any adjustments need to be made.
            What if you know you snore at night, but don’t think you have sleep apnea? We would still recommend you get a sleep study to verify. If you find out you do not have apnea and would like to reduce or eliminate your snoring, we can make a similar appliance to advance the lower jaw forward and reduce the snoring.
            We are always happy to discuss the different options available to help treat your sleep apnea or snoring. But it is important to remember that the role of the dentist should be completely dependent on the recommendations of the sleep physician.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

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