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Can My Dentist Help Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

Can My Dentist Help Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

Some people wake up groggy and feeling as though they haven't had any sleep, despite sleeping through the night. This may be an indicator of sleep apnea. Our dentists in North Delta talk about sleep apnea and discuss whether your dentist is able to diagnose or provide treatment options for this condition.

What does sleep apnea do to your body?

Patients experiencing the effects of sleep apnea have little pauses in their breathing throughout the night. Sleep apnea gets its name because these little pauses are called apneas and they occur while you are sleeping. These breathing pauses can last a few seconds to a few minutes and can happen up to 30 times (or more) per night. After each pause, normal breathing resumes, typically there would be some type of sound, choking or something similar as you begin to breathe normally again.

When suffering from the effects of sleep apnea you may also experience an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. This makes the early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea very important.

Is there more than one type of sleep apnea?

The effects of sleep apnea are commonly missed during routine checkups due to the lack of obvious signs. Commonly, the first signs of sleep apnea are noticed by the patient who may then mention them to their dentist or primary physician.

Mild Sleep Apnea 

With mild sleep apnea, the effects of the condition may be managed using dental appliances and lifestyle changes such as weight management.

If your primary physician has diagnosed you with sleep apnea, your dentist may be able to recommend these or other similar options to help manage your symptoms.

Severe Sleep Apnea

Dentists typically advise patients with severe sleep apnea to use CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Continuous positive airway pressure, which uses air pressure to keep the airway open while you sleep, is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. If you are unable or unwilling to use CPAP therapy, Inspire therapy may be another possible solution.

Inspire monitors your breathing while you sleep and sends mild stimulation to the nerve that controls the movement of your tongue and other muscles in your airway to keep it open.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed and treated?

while your dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea, no matter how clear your symptoms are, they can recommend that you speak with your primary physician. They will be able to perform an examination and offer a diagnosis. Once you have been diagnosed, some dental clinics offer oral appliances that can help manage the symptoms of sleep apnea and protect your teeth in the process.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, our dental team may recommend night guards as a way to protect your teeth from any damage that may occur with this condition. These dental appliances can help prevent grinding (bruxism) which may occur while sleeping.

Routine exams can help your dentist to spot any issues early on. Contact our North Delta dental team to request an appointment today.

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