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What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing at night at varying intervals that last at least 10 seconds. This is problematic because breathing keeps us alive and healthy.
Sleep, and specifically stage 3 sleep or deep sleep, is when children secrete growth hormones. A lack of stage 3 sleep can result in children being in the lower percentiles of height and weight. Connections have been made with poor sleep and airways with ADHD as well.
REM sleep is when we imprint what we have learned that day onto the brain to remember it. A lack of REM sleep can result in poor memory and poor performance in school.
In addition, poor sleep is well connected to:
Why Does My Dentist Care?
Your dentist cares because we often see the effects of sleep disorders in the mouth, including:
- Worn teeth from clenching and grinding at night
- Scalloped tongue
- Inflamed uvula
- Bony bumps on your jawbones in the mouth (called tori)
- Dry mouth
- Acid reflux on teeth
Do the sides of your tongue have scalloping on it, where the teeth make indentions in it? That’s another symptom.
Many people with sleep apnea have problems with headaches and TMJ problems. And many with TMJ problems have undiagnosed sleep apnea as well.
So, can a dentist diagnose sleep apnea?
No, we cannot. But what we can do is recognize signs for it, gather more information, and communicate with your primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Once you have a diagnosis of sleep apnea, the treatment of choice for children is to remove the tonsils and adenoids and then widen their dental arch with orthodontics.
For adults, the primary method of sleep apnea treatment is a CPAP. That’s the gold standard for moderate to severe sleep apnea and the best treatment.
However, your physician may approve you for oral appliance therapy if you:
Sleep Apnea Treatment Helps In Many Ways
Oral appliance therapy
At Farmer & Williamson, our protocol for patients who are undiagnosed but have signs and symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing is first to gather data:
In some cases, we may send you home with a home sleep test. It fits on your wrist and is very simple.
After that is evaluated by a Kansas board-certified sleep physician, we’ll share our findings with you and with your primary care physician to go over treatment recommendations for you.
Sleep apnea is a big deal and potentially fatal long before your family is ready. We take it very seriously!
Call us for a consultation today if you or a loved one snores, is often tired during the day, is on more than one medication for hypertension, or has acid reflux. Any of these alone is concerning!
Tony V., 5-Star Google Review
FAQs About Sleep Apnea Treatment
- Who is sleep apnea treatment for?
This treatment may be perfect for you if you:
- Constantly snore
- Grind your teeth at night
- Are often tired during the day
- Are on more than 1 medication for hypertension
- Have acid reflux
- Are prone to headaches
- Have TMJ pain, or TMD
We can also spot signs of sleep apnea in your mouth. If you have:
- Dry mouth
- A scalloped tongue
- Bony bumps on your jawbones in your mouth
Contact us to schedule an appointment.
- What if I’ve already tried a CPAP?
If you’ve already tried a CPAP and you’re unable to wear it successfully, the protocol is slightly different.
We’d ask you to obtain:
- Your most current sleep study copy
- A prescription for an oral appliance from your physician
- A statement of CPAP non-compliance/tolerance, which we can provide for you
You’d still go through all of our protocols so we could best predict how successful you’d be in an oral appliance.
- Does insurance cover sleep apnea therapy?
The really good news here is we file all of this sleep apnea treatment under your medical insurance plan. If your physician determines and our findings suggest you would respond well to oral appliance therapy, then your health insurance typically will pay for that as well (subject to deductibles and co-payments).