What is Dental Sleep Medicine?
Dental sleep medicine (sleep dentistry) focuses on the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Aside from disturbing your partner, snoring has been known to cause numerous problems like sleepiness and fatigue. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissue in the throat collapses and blocks the airway during sleep which stops breathing. These lapses in breathing last between 10 and 30 seconds, but can persist for one minute or longer. These pauses can happen numerous times a night, leading to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen levels. The brain alerts the body to its lack of oxygen, causing you to briefly awaken from sleep to restore normal breathing. This leads to poor quality of sleep that causes excessive daytime sleepiness. OSA causes you to snore loudly and frequently, with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They then make choking or gasping sounds when their airway reopens. New studies, as reported by the Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor, show significant links between snoring and sleep apnea and heart diseases such as hypertension and heart failure. Untreated OSA increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Memory loss
- Morning headaches
- Decreased sex drive
- Impaired concentration
- Driving and work-related accidents
Sleep Dentistry – How to treat snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
As your sleep dentistry specialist in Austin, we will screen for signs of sleep apnea by asking a series of questions and look for signs during the comprehensive exam. If sleep apnea is suspected, a sleep study has to be conducted by a sleep physician to determine the extent. Dentists are not legally allowed to diagnose sleep apnea. Testing for OSA can be done overnight at a sleep center or with a home sleep testing unit in the comfort of your own home. Either way the law requires a physician to diagnose OSA after the sleep study. We at Enamel Dentistry can refer you to an accredited sleep physician to ensure you get a proper diagnosis.
The diagnosis can be anything from snoring, mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. Snoring can be treated simply with an oral appliance. The gold standard for treatment of OSA of any severity is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). If a CPAP is not right for you, the alternative is a custom made oral appliance that repositions the tongue and lower jaw forward during sleep to maintain an open airway. We are trained to customize these devices, which look like mouth guards, to help patients breathe freely during sleep. Results are life-changing; patients feel more energized and your systemic conditions improve dramatically really improving your lifestyle. Schedule an appointment with us if you or anyone you know snores, we can get you the proper care and change your life!