Using oral and dental devices for treatment of sleep apnea and snoring
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by lapses in breathing or a significant reduction of airflow during sleep. When left untreated, OSA can impair quality of life and lead to the development of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and depression. According to a recent epidemiological study, moderate or severe OSA affects 10% of men and 3% of women ages 30 to 49 years, and 17% of men and 9% of women ages 50 to 70 years. Furthermore, more than 80% of moderate or severe cases of OSA remain undiagnosed. These numbers reveal that the public health initiative for economical OSA screening in clinical settings is imperative.
Snoring is one of the symptoms of a health condition known as sleep apnea, a disorder that is actually quite hard to identify. The problem with sleep apnea is that it is a severe condition requiring immediate treatment. Because of this, dental professionals must determine if the snoring problem signifies the presence of sleep apnea as early as possible.
Snoring does not indicate sleep apnea all the time
For the proper treatment of snoring problems, it is crucial to be aware of how snoring differs from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The fact is, a lot of people snore. Studies show an estimated 30% to 50% of the U.S. population experiences snoring. There are even those who snore significantly. The problem with excessive snoring is that it can trigger various problems including sleep disturbances, marital discord, and waking episodes.
But snoring does not signal the presence of obstructive sleep apnea all the time. There are times when the condition is triggered only by a social inconvenience. To determine whether snoring is tied to OSA, consider whether these sleep apnea symptoms are also present:
Pauses that take place while snoring
Choking or gasping that follows the pauses
Fighting sleepiness at work, when driving, or during the entire day
Rapidly falling asleep when inactive
Personality changes or mood swings
Sore throat or dry mouth after waking up
The need to wake up frequently to urinate
Breathing cessation episodes
Difficulty staying asleep
Oral and dental devices that help in treating sleep apnea
One way to treat excessive snoring and sleep apnea is to use dental or oral devices. These appliances are useful in correcting mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. The good news is that there are numerous options for these dental devices, and Brit Phillips DDS can recommend one that suits the particular needs of the patient and fit it in the safest way.
One device that can be recommended for the sleep apnea sufferer is the mandibular advancement device. This is one of the most widely used dental appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea. It resembles a sports mouth guard in appearance and is useful in forcing the lower jaw down and forward slightly. This offers tremendous help in keeping the airway open, thereby preventing problems in breathing.
A tongue-retraining device can also be recommended to correct sleep apnea. This splint holds the tongue in the right position and works to keep the airway open. Regular dental visits are crucial because the device requires periodic adjustments or replacements.
Benefits of recommending dental devices for the treatment of sleep apnea
There are numerous reasons why dental professionals recommend dental devices and an improvement in oral and dental health to people with sleep apnea. One is that these prove to be truly effective in significantly reducing risks of dealing with mild to moderate cases of apnea. The devices are also particularly useful for those who either sleep on their stomach or back, and are effective in improving the airflow of those who suffer from severe apnea. Other benefits of recommending dental appliances and improving oral and dental health for sleep apnea and snoring sufferers are improved sleep patterns, reduced frequency of snoring, reduced loudness of snoring, and high success rates.