You go to the dentist and they ask you how you have been sleeping. A weird question to get asked at a dental office right? Actually, dentists are able to help tremendously in this area. You have to be thinking HOW is my dentist going to improve my sleep? We are able to offer an alternative to the traditional sleep apnea device- the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.
So what exactly is sleep apnea and how would you know if you suffer from it? Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition where the airway in the back of your mouth near the throat closes. The seriousness of the OSA is based on how often the incidents occur and how long are the durations.
The episodes startle the body and deny one from going into deeper sleep, causing them to not waking fully rested. This can cause the individual to feel tired and grumpy during the day. This is one of the most common symptoms.
But did you know this stress has also been associated with weight gain, morning headaches, diabetes lost libido and other sexual dysfunctions?
Every Philadelphia sports fan remembers the great Reggie White. Do you remember that he died from apnea? Yup, that’s also a known side effect-DEATH!
How would you know if you have apnea, snore or both?
There is a very heavy cross-over between snoring and sleep apnea. A comprehensive sleep study will be able to tell you if you snore, grind your teeth, have apneic episodes, for how long and how oxygen deprived (hypoxic) your body was during the episode.
First answer these few questions: Are you aware that you snore? Fun fact: 30-50% of the population does! Do you gasp for air in the middle of the night? Do you wake up with a headache or groggy feeling? Do you have problems with concentrating? Are you tired frequently during the day? If you answered yes to more than one of these there is a possibility you could have sleep apnea.
So, what’s to save us?
Traditionally, people have been given CPAP machines, cumbersome masks that forces air down your airway fighting the physical obstruction. They are noisy, uncomfortable, obtrusive and NOT sexy!!!
For a couple decades we at Dillon Family Dentistry have been offering our patients a much better treatment alternative. An oral appliance that opens the airway. It’s a quite simple device that is simply similar to wearing comfortable mouthguards on your top and bottom teeth and pull the lower jaw forward. This simple, unobtrusive manipulation opens up the airway in the back for the successful treatment of snoring and OSA.
The compliance rate between a CPAP and oral devices are significantly different. Success of compliance with the obtrusive CPAP machine is between 60-70%, whereas we see a compliance of over 90% for our patients with the dental appliances.
One of the other issues with the CPAP is infections. Have you seen the terrible ads on TV talking about the problems those nasty machines are causing for the people using them? The dental devices remove that risk from the equation completely!!!
Here’s one story to reinforce my point. Several years ago I had a patient come in and declare that he loves his CPAP. He sleeps better, isn’t tired and is in a better mood all of the time. So, I asked him why he was in my office. “I hate my CPAP. It’s uncomfortable, a hassle to travel with and terrible on date night!”
We made him a dental appliance and within a month he GAVE AWAY his CPAP machine (obviously to someone he doesn’t care for completely or he would have sent him to Dillon Family Dentistry-Right?).
If you have a household that affected by snoring or someone that suffering from apnea or DEFINTELY someone that is currently using a CPAP machine do them all a favor and call your local Bryn Mawr dentist, Dr. David Dillon at 610-525-5497.