Dentist in Redding: How Could A Dentist Help Sleep Apnea?

Dr. Parvin Carter

Apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a technical term for suspension of external breathing. Apnea of more than approximately one minute’s duration could leads to severe lack of oxygen in the blood circulation.

Sleep apnea  is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep.

As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. For the 18 million Americans who experience symptoms of sleep apnea, a good night’s sleep also has the power to save their lives.

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test can help diagnose the condition.

Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice.

Signs of sleep apnea:

  • Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
  • Loud snoring
  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
  • Recurrent awakenings or insomnia

Effects of Sleep Apnea:

  • High Blood Pressure.
  • Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Attack.
  •  Stroke. Sleep apnea may increase the risk of death in patients who have previously had a stroke.
  • Heart Failure.
  •  Atrial Fibrillation.
  • Diabetes. Severe obstructive sleep apnea is associated with type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity. sleep apnea increases the risk for weight gain.
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high pressure in the arteries of the lungs).
  • Asthma.
  • Seizures, epilepsy, and other nerve disorders.
  • High-risk pregnancies. Sleep apnea may increase the risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Eye disorders, including glaucoma, floppy eyelid syndrome, optic neuropathy

Treatment of sleep Apnea:

1. Continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP):

One of the treatments for symptomatic obstructive sleep apnea is a system known as continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP), sometimes referred to as nasal continuous positive airflow pressure (nCPAP).

Unfortunately, CPAP devices are often cumbersome, which can lead to patients becoming discouraged and stopping treatment. The mask may cause some patients to feel anxious.

Nearly all patients complain of at least one side effect. Nearly half of complaints are related to the mask.

Common complaints include:

  • Irritation in the nose and throat. Excessive application of pressure making exhalation difficult.
  • A feeling of claustrophobia
  • Up to 30% of patients have irritation and sores over the bridge of the nose
  • Eye irritation or conjunctivitis.
  • Upper respiratory infections. It is very important to keep the unit clean.
  • Patients may also feel temporary chest muscle discomfort, which is caused by an increase in lung volume.

Studies have reported that long-term compliance with CPAP systems is low, with about one-third of patients giving up the treatment.

2. Oral Appliance:

Most dentists have undergone special training for the treatment of sleep apnea and are very skilled in its management using behavioral modification and dental appliances, but a confirmed diagnosis from a sleep medicine specialist is required before any treatment can be administered.

Oral appliances  are a front-line treatment for patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea  who prefer oral appliances to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), or who do not respond to CPAP, are not appropriate candidates for CPAP, or who fail treatment attempts with CPAP or treatment with behavioral measures such as weight loss or sleep position change. This small plastic device fits in the mouth during sleep like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances help prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, such as weight management, surgery.

How oral appliances work:

  • Re-positioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
  • Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
  • Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue

Types of Oral appliances:

Oral Appliances can be classified by mode of action or design variation.

Tongue Retaining Appliances

Tongue retaining appliances hold the tongue in a forward position using a suction bulb. When the tongue is in a forward position, it serves to keep the back of the tongue from collapsing during sleep and obstructing the airway in the throat.

Lower jaw Re-positioning Appliances

Lower jaw re positioning appliances re-position and maintain the lower jaw in a protruded position during sleep. The device serves to open the airway by indirectly pulling the tongue forward, stimulating activity of the muscles in the tongue and making it more rigid. The device also holds the lower jaw and other structures in a stable position to prevent the mouth from opening.

In dentistry experience and Continuing Education are everything. Dr. Parvin Carter has over 30 years of experience in Practicing General Dentistry and 25 years in Orthodontics. She has thousands of hours of advanced training. In 2000, Academy of General Dentistry awarded Dr. Carter a Certificate of Mastership (MAGD) in General Dentistry. According to the Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, only 1% of US dentists achieve this high level of advancement. Dr. Carter is a Certified and Preferred Provider of Invisalign. She has successfully treated over 360 patients with Invisalign.

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