The Secrets of Sleep Dentistry

178054142Familiar with the term sleep dentistry? Despite what it may sound like, the term does not have anything to do with napping during checkups and cleanings. Rather, sleep dentistry deals with the practice of dentists helping individuals with sleep problems.

Since the inception of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine 15 years ago, dentist, doctors, and sleep specialist have all worked side-by-side in an effort to treat patients suffering from snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.  Approximately, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, including roughly 18 million with sleep apnea.

Helping Patients Sleep Better

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when tissue located in the back of the throat collapses and obstructs the airway while an individual sleeps, thereby cutting off the amount of oxygen distributed throughout the body. When the levels of oxygen in the blood drops below a certain threshold, individuals suffering apnea wake up during the night, though sometimes for so brief a period they don’t even know it happened. Individuals that snore may also lose needed sleep, occasionally because their own loud sawing wakes them, not to mention the prodding suffered at the hands of annoyed spouses laying besides.

One potential solution, the creation of custom oral appliances patients wear at night. These plastic devices gently pull the jaw forward, which propels forward the collapsed tissue and opens the airways, reducing snoring and collapse of tissue that causes OSA. These devices look like retainers and night guards with a top and a bottom.

To make a custom guard, patients need to visit a dentist that specializes in sleep dentistry. During the visit, the dentist will take a mold of the patient’s teeth and bite. The dentist then sends the mold to a manufacturer that creates a custom guard. During the patients next visit, the dentist will adjust the appliance, instruct the patient on how to use the device, and make any modifications needed to make wearing it more comfortable. While the creation of the device can be costly, most insurance plans will cover the expense, depending the patient diagnosis.

Identifying a Problem

Could you suffer from sleep apnea? Keep an eye out for potential warning signs other than waking during the night and snoring.

What’s your weight and collar size? Sleep apnea is most often diagnosed in overweight individuals and those with large necks; excessive tissue in the throat contributes to low airflow.

Coffee’s not the solution. Do you chug coffee because of feeling frequently tired, despite getting plenty of sleep? People suffering from sleep apnea may get their required rest, but the quality of sleep they receive is typically so poor, they always feel tired.

If you have any questions about sleep dentistry or wonder if you might suffer from sleep apnea, talk with us during your next visit to your choice for family dentist in Tigard Oregon: Tigard Family Dental.

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