How are you sleeping? Or maybe more importantly how is your spouse sleeping? A good night’s sleep helps restore the mind and body. However, it is estimated that 25 million people in America do not get a good night’s rest due to the fact that they have a sleep related breathing disorder. The most commonly discussed of these is obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition that causes a person to stop breathing for 10 seconds or more repeatedly during the night.
Dentists are often the first ones to diagnose sleep apnea because we typically see our patients more frequently than their physician. At Dental Associates of Walpole we have begun to notice the topic of sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep related breathing disorders coming up in conversation with our patients more and more. Because of this, all of the doctors and staff in our adult department have received advanced training in screening and treating sleep related breathing disorders including sleep apnea.
Once diagnosed through a sleep study, which can be done at a sleep center or with a Home Sleep Test that we can provide, treatment recommended is contingent upon the severity of the disorder. Losing weight, quitting smoking and altering the sleep position can all help treat sleep apnea. A dental appliance can also be used to treat sleep apnea. Patients with severe sleep apnea may be required to use a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP machine.
It is important for you to have an open and honest conversation with your dentist and hygienist if you suspect that you have sleep apnea in order to move forward with the appropriate screening. Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed and untreated, even though it is a serious condition linked to fatal events including heart attack and stroke. Medical literature reports that if left untreated sleep apnea can take up to 12+ years off your life (smoking takes 7-10). Snoring, high blood pressure, morning headaches, insomnia, and dry mouth are some of the symptoms of a sleep related breathing disorder. If you think you or your bed partner may be at risk for a sleep related breathing disorder please let us know.
Please click here to visit our pre-screening questionnaire and we can get a head start on determining if you need a more in-depth screening.
By Dr. Christopher Page