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A Dentist’s Role in Sleep Medicine
Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder that affects millions of Americans. A good night’s sleep has the power not only to restore your body but also to enliven your mind. For the people who experience symptoms of sleep apnea, a good night’s sleep can also save their lives. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the more common form, is a serious, life-threatening disorder. It is characterized by a series of episodes in which an individual stops breathing during sleep. Read on to learn more about sleep apnea and the role of the dentist in sleep medicine.
Sleep apnea and the dentist
Sleep apnea can affect an individual at any age. However, men are often more likely to develop the disorder. It is very important for a person to seek treatment for sleep apnea. Failure to do so can result in a number of problems including depression and high blood pressure. Here are some ways dentists can help people suffering from sleep apnea.
Signs and symptoms
Snoring is usually one of the biggest indicators of sleep apnea. However, some of the symptoms are not quite so obvious and audible. The dentist can detect the less evident symptoms of the disorder. This can be done through a candid conversation with the patient, together with an exam. The dentist may suspect the patient suffers from the disorder if the individual complains about particular problems. These include morning headaches, lethargy and dry mouth.
Any patient with the symptoms of sleep apnea will be sent to a sleep medicine professional who will assess the condition of the patient. If a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, the individual may have to return to the dentist for treatment. The treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the disorder. Behavioral changes may be recommended for people with mild sleep apnea. Wearing a dental appliance during sleep may also be beneficial. The dental appliance often helps to reposition the tongue and jaw to improve airflow.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system is usually ideal for the treatment of severe cases of sleep apnea. This is a device that delivers air through a mask. It then applies constant pressure to keep the patient’s airway open. Sometimes, surgery may be recommended. Most dentists are highly trained and capable of treating sleep apnea. They are usually very skilled in sleep apnea management using dental appliances and behavioral modification.
Dentists help many people suffering from sleep apnea. They are fully capable of detecting symptoms linked to the disorder. The dentist can then provide the appropriate treatment. But a confirmed diagnosis from a sleep medicine professional is required before any form of treatment can be administered.
Sleep apnea can go undiagnosed for many years since it can be a silent condition. It is vital to keep an open dialogue with medical practitioners. This will ensure that conditions like sleep apnea can be identified and then properly treated. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, make sure to speak to your dentist for more information and possible evaluation.
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