According to the Cleveland Clinic, Sleep apnea affects up to one-quarter of all men and almost 10 percent of women. However, it can occur in people of all ages, including babies and young children. It may be especially prominent in individuals over age 50 who are also overweight.
Left untreated, sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition that causes breathing cessation multiple times throughout the sleep cycle.
Vital organs, including the heart, require oxygen, and when breathing is interrupted, these organs are deprived. Over time, this can lead to high blood pressure, sudden heart attack, and even stroke.
Lesser complications or early symptoms include:
- Dry throat
- Daytime sleepiness
- Mood changes
Types of Sleep Apnea
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. This form typically means that the soft tissues supporting the airway collapse or relax during sleep. This cuts off the oxygen supply to the lungs.
Central sleep apnea is the less common form of this disorder. With this condition, the brain does not communicate the need to breathe during sleep.
Both types of sleep apnea are disruptive and can change life quality by compromising healthy sleep patterns. Unfortunately, the consequences of untreated sleep apnea can be long-term.
How Sleep Apnea Dentists in Huntsville, AL Are Helping Patients
According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), more and more dentists provide sleep apnea therapy for their patients. The AADSM provides education for these dental professionals who want to offer sleep apnea therapy; this includes dentists offering appliance therapy in their dental offices.
Sleep apnea dentists in Huntsville, AL, Drs. Brian Cook and Mitra Waite can help assess the level of sleep apnea and even work with medical doctors to create the best treatment plan for each patient.
While medical doctors tend to prescribe CPAP machines, a mask that delivers air throughout the night, dentists take a more conservative approach with appliance therapy.
Of course, the CPAP machine can be an effective tool in sleep apnea treatment, but many patients can’t acclimate to the ungainly device.
Fortunately, sleep apnea dentists are having success with appliance therapy.
Diagnosis and Treatment with a Dentist
Typically, the patient feels irritable and not well-rested. Maybe a loved one or family member complains about the patient’s snoring. The next step is diagnosis.
A dentist can spot the signs of sleep apnea and even send the patient to a sleep specialist or schedule a sleep study. Through these definitive diagnostic tools, the dentist can move forward with treatment, including appliance therapy or combination treatment that involves appliance therapy, the CPAP machine, and collaboration with a sleep specialist.
SomnoDent in Huntsville, AL
SomnoDent has been a successful sleep apnea treatment in Huntsville, AL. It is ideal for those who can’t tolerate the CPAP machine. SomnoDent may also work to combat simple snoring that is not associated with sleep apnea.
The SomnoDent solution is noninvasive and can work quickly to provide the patient with comfortable and safe sleep.
As an appliance-based therapy, SomnoDent is a specially fitted oral device that gently thrusts the lower jaw forward during sleep. When this happens, the airway stays open and allows for safer and easier breathing.
The dentist can monitor SomnoDent treatment periodically to make sure it is working well for the patient.
In some cases, patients opt for CPAP but rely on SomnoDent when traveling or during a power outage. CPAP is a medium-to-large-sized machine that requires electricity, hoses, and a cord, making it undesirable when flying or traveling long distances.
Supportive Sleep Apnea Treatments and Other Related Conditions
Aside from machines and appliance therapy, weight loss may help counter sleep apnea by reducing weight.
In some cases, patients who have sleep apnea may also suffer from TMJ or bruxism. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) refers to a disorder in the hingejoint that connects the lower jaw to the lower skull.
Bruxism may lead to TMJ and can result from sleep apnea.
Bruxism symptoms include:
- Worn teeth
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
Over time, bruxism can lead to fractured teeth and oral health complications, including TMJ.
The pain associated with TMJ is often similar to bruxism, but the patient may also notice a clicking sound in their jaw when yawning or speaking.
Fortunately, some dentists can provide treatment for these conditions, improving life quality and allowing for better days; in fact, treatment for one condition often combats another.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Huntsville, AL
Sleep apnea dentists are specially trained to help patients diagnosed with the condition sleep comfortably and safely.
The dentists at Twickenham Family Dental offer treatments, including appliance therapy, in Huntsville. Additionally, they are happy to accept new patients for diagnosis, evaluation, referral, and treatment.
Call (256) 539-4079 to learn more or arrange a consultation with a sleep apnea dentist.