According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Unfortunately, 8 in 10 cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed.
Scientific research links sleep apnea to a number of negative health and safety issues. Patients with untreated sleep apnea suffer an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, weight gain, and diabetes. That’s why it’s crucial for patients to get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment for their sleep apnea.
How Dr. Dani Can Help
People don’t automatically think of their dentist as the person to see about sleep apnea. But there are important reasons why dentists “have a significant role in the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.”
Dentists are commonly the first medical professionals to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea. This makes sense because their training and experience provide dentists with a unique understanding of the region of the body where sleep apnea occurs.
Seeing their patients more often than other practitioners, dentists are likely to notice common signs of sleep apnea. For example, the shape and position of the jaw can tell them if a patient is likely to suffer from the disorder.
The condition of the teeth offers additional clues about sleep apnea. For example, bruxism, which is nighttime teeth-grinding, is a common symptom of sleep apnea. This often results in teeth that are worn down, cracked, or broken.
Getting the Right Diagnosis and Treatment
If Dr. Dani notices signs of sleep apnea during one of your regular examinations, she’ll ask you some questions about the quality of sleep you’ve been getting and how you feel throughout the day.
The next step in the process usually involves taking a sleep study, which you can do in the comfort of your own home. Once your sleep study is complete, a physician will determine if you suffer from sleep apnea. If you do, Dr. Dani will find the treatment that’s best for you.
CPAP is an effective treatment that’s commonly prescribed for sleep apnea. But patients often find CPAP machines to be noisy, inconvenient, and difficult to sleep with.
Many of Dr. Dani’s patients find relief using an oral appliance. This is a small device that looks a lot like a dental retainer. An oral appliance is worn during sleep and it treats sleep apnea by keeping the airway open.