Treating Sleep Apnea with Dental Appliances
At the Indianapolis dental office of Richard J. Stuart, DDS, we take all aspects of your dental health seriously. From routine cleanings to restorative dental work, we create beautiful smiles through a caring and comprehensive approach to oral health.
A disorder that we come across all too often in our patients is sleep apnea – a disruptive and potentially dangerous condition that occurs when a patient’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Though many patients don’t immediately correlate sleep apnea to their dental health, the condition can be effectively managed by working with a dentist who has experience treating the root causes of sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
There are two basic types of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. With OSA, severe snoring and difficulties in breathing occur when the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse and partially or completely block the airway during sleep. With central sleep apnea, there are no physical obstructions in the airway, but the brain’s signals – specifically those functions of the respiratory control center, fail to signal the body to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is generally treatable by a dentist who can employ the latest in sleep apnea-preventing devices.
What are the risk factors for sleep apnea?
Unfortunately, sleep apnea can afflict those of all ages, but it generally presents in patients with the following characteristics:
- Male patients
- Those who are overweight
- Patients with a family history of sleep apnea
- Those who suffer from GERD or gastroesophageal reflux
- Individuals with allergies, sinus issues, or deviated septum
- Those with a neck size larger than 17” for males, 16” for females
- Tongue, tonsils, or jaw bone abnormalities
What happens if it is left untreated?
Though it may seem like innocent (though annoying) snoring, sleep apnea can be quite dangerous if not managed appropriately. Patients can suffer from high blood pressure, heart failure or heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, headaches, depression, and a worsening of existing ADHD issues. Because sleep apnea disrupts normal sleep patterns, it can also cause poor performance at school or work, and drive underachievement in school-aged kids.
How is it treated?
Some physicians will suggest a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure device, to enable patients to breathe more easily during sleep. These machines can be effective, but they are bulky, expensive, and must be taken along if the patient travels frequently.
At the dental office of our Indianapolis dentist, Richard J. Stuart, DDS, we offer sleep apnea treatments using leading-edge oral sleep apnea appliances that gently reposition the lower jaw during sleep to promote an increase in the size of the upper airway. This minimizes airway obstructions, reduces or eliminates snoring, and permits easier breathing at all times. These devices, in conjunction with other healthy living changes, can dramatically reduce or completely eliminate sleep apnea in patients. The benefits? Reduced risk of heart conditions, stroke, headaches, extreme fatigue, and diabetes. Plus, less snoring to annoy your partner and a more restful night of sleep for all involved.
If you feel that you or a family member might be suffering from sleep apnea, contact the Dental Office of Richard J. Stuart, DDS today to schedule an appointment. Our comprehensive approach to dentistry can deliver more than just an attractive smile – it can also contribute to your long-term health and well-being.