Dental Care for Sleep Apnea & Snoring
Dental Treatment for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Dr. Smith at Dental Health and Wellness Boston are working with Boston’s most respected physicians who specialize in treatment for sleep apnea and snoring. Their goal is to provide an expanded array of options to help many people who suffer from these issues. For dentists, physicians and their patients – there’s another life to be saved, another relationship to mend, and more good night’s sleep to be achieved with proper dental treatment for sleep apnea and snoring.
Both snoring and sleep apnea occur along a continuum of Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDR). Its most innocent manifestation is snoring which occurs when the tissues of the throat (soft palate, uvula, and back of the tongue) relax and vibrate against each other during breathing. Its worst manifestation is the complete cessation of breathing (apnea) with the lowering of blood oxygen levels (hypoxia). Dental treatment for sleep apnea and snoring is a revolutionary approach to sleep disordered breathing, and oral appliance therapy is a good choice for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Oral Dental Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
In 2006 The American Academy of Sleep Medicine established that oral appliances provide treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Oral dental appliances made of plastic trays, anchor on the teeth and help hold the lower jaw in a forward position and thus keep the tongue from falling on the back of the throat when relaxed. Oral appliance therapy is currently enjoying a wide surge in popularity due in large part to the inability of many people to tolerate other sleep apnea treatments such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty surgery (UPPP), which removes soft tissue on the back of the throat.
Oral Appliances serve a very important role in treating today’s epidemic of obstructive sleep apnea. This has created a new sub-specialty in dentistry, called “Dental Sleep Medicine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine have come together to develop standards and protocols for the joint effort to treat sleep apnea as it relates to the use of oral appliances. At Dental Health and Wellness Boston, one of our specialties is helping patients who suffer from sleep apnea understand the benefits of oral appliance therapy.
Are You At Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is more common among men and post menopausal women. Others at risk include anyone with a family history of sleep apnea, people who are overweight, have high blood pressure, or possess small airways in the nose, throat and mouth. According to the National Institute of Health there are some elevated incidence of sleep apnea among Latinos and African Americans. If you think you are at risk, please talk to us during your next visit.
More About Snoring
There are 200 million (estimated 67%) snorers in the United States. Snoring is the beginning of a health-disease continuum that researchers now link with many of life’s most challenging diseases, and even to death itself. As snoring deepens or persists, it can lead to Sleep Apnea, a Greek expression for “without breath” or “want of breath.” Though snoring is the most annoying part of sleep apnea, sleep apnea is a much more complicated problem that may be remedied by dental sleep medicine and oral appliance therapy.
More About Sleep Apnea
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, an estimated 17-20% of the population suffers from some form of sleep apnea. That means upwards of nearly 60 million Americans suffer nightly oxygen deprivation (shallow breathing or hypopnea), and episodes of no breathing - which sets in play a host of risk factors connected to many troubling medical disorders.
During sleep or relaxation, the muscles of the mouth and throat relax and the size of the airway decreases. This narrowing of diameter in the airway increases the rate of airflow traveling through the throat. This creates a low pressure environment (Bernoulli’s Principle) and an opportunity for the flexible soft tissue airway walls to collapse into the opening. When the airway collapses completely, all airflow stops, creating an apnea (which means “stopped breath”). This occurs despite repeated efforts to breathe (“paradoxical breathing”) where diaphragmatic and chest wall muscles continue to struggle almost violently to take a breath.
The Harmful Effects of Sleep Apnea
There is now an escalating amount of information from the medical research that frequent nighttime arousals (which occur when the oxygen level in the blood drops and the need to breathe overpowers sleep), set in play dangerous biochemical processes, which produce subtle yet serious injury to the body. These harmful effects may be treated with oral appliance therapy and dental sleep medicine at Dental Health and Wellness Boston.
Some affects of these disorders include:
Reduced Oxygen in the Body
Reduced air flow resulting from sleep apnea lowers oxygen saturation in the blood and can lead to learning and memory problems, irritability, depression, accidents and productivity problems at work or school.
Sleep apnea is linked to such medical conditions as heart attacks and heart disease, stroke, weight gain, headaches, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Along with the generally decreased quality of life, people who suffer from sleep apnea also experience an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, impotence, cognitive dysfunction, and depression. Other common findings in people with sleep apnea are enlarged tonsils, elongated palate, uvular lengthening and edema, and thick necks.
People who suffer from sleep apnea suffer from persistent nightly obstruction or narrowing of the windpipe that carries precious air to the lungs and bloodstream. Because of the constant cyclical nature of this repetitious arousal phenomenon, people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea can’t get a good nights sleep and experience excessive daytime sleepiness and tiredness, along with neurocognitive deficits than can impair work performance. Because people with sleep apnea are prone to fall asleep easily and at inappropriate times, they risk experiencing more motor vehicle accidents and pose a greater danger to others on the road. According to the National Sleep Foundation people with untreated sleep apnea have been estimated to be three times more likely to have motor vehicle accidents.
Many people with sleep apnea are obese. However not all obese people are apneic, and there are many non-obese people who experience sleep breathing disorders.
How Your Boston Dentist Can Help
If you think you may be at risk for any of these harmful effects of sleep apnea, you may be a candidate for oral appliance therapy and dental sleep medicine at Dental Health and Wellness Boston. Please talk to your dentist at your next appointment.Read more about sleep apnea on Dr. Jill Smith's Wellness Blog