If you have been in for an office visit in the last year, you have most likely been given a survey that questions your level of sleepiness. This is a subjective questionnaire that is designed to record your impression of your level of fatigue during normal daytime activities such as driving or reading. Not surprisingly, we get quite a few questions as to why we are asking these questions and also how does sleepiness relate to going to the dentist.
Well, as it happens, in 2006 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine decided that patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea could avoid being treated with CPAP ( a mask that goes over the mouth and, or nose and is used to keep an open airway and improve nighttime respiration), and instead use an oral appliance that helps position the lower jaw forward and therefore improve the function of the airway. The sleep physicians called upon willing dentists to provide these oral devices. If you have ever used or seen a CPAP machine, you can understand why a patient would want to try to avoid using one. The point is though, that without some help to keep the airway open, these patients were developing some unfortunate medical conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, complications to diabetes, and sometimes sudden death.
Some of the symptoms that may indicate a person has Obstructive Sleep Apnea are; snoring, gasping for breath while sleeping, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty controlling blood pressure, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and swollen ankles. There are many more signs and symptoms that can also lead to a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Studies have indicated that untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea can shorten a person’s life span by 7-8 years. Another thing that must be considered is whether a patient will be having surgery if they have undiagnosed sleep apnea. General anesthetics can exaggerate the condition and lead to some very severe complications, including death.
The CPAP has always been considered the gold standard for treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but now when the patient’s condition warrants, the patients can be treated with an oral appliance that is easier to use and results in better compliance by the patient. After all, the best device in the world won’t help if it is not used or intolerable to the patient. Our office is working together with all the Sleep Clinics is Grove City, and some in Columbus to coordinate our patients treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. We have access to several different types of oral appliances, called Mandibular Advancement Devices, and we can find one that best suits your situation.
If you or a loved one has symptoms that you believe may be due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea, please call our office and speak to one of our team members. They are all very knowledgeable and will help you schedule for a complimentary sleep apnea consultation.