Sleep apnea is characterized by breathing stops during sleep. It is a pathology that requires management and follow-up by a physician, but your dentist can also play a role in the diagnosis and treatment.
The Centre Dentaire & D’implantologie Boucherville tells you more about this condition and what your dentist can do for you.
Recognizing Sleep Apnea
Often, the individual who suffers from sleep apnea will not notice it on his or her own: it is usually those close to him or her who will notice it first. A lack of breath during the night or snoring followed by silence can be a sign that something is wrong. Frequent awakenings should also sound the alarm.
If you have apnea, your sleep is not restful, so you may experience daytime sleepiness or any of the symptoms often associated with fatigue. Irritability, concentration problems or headaches in the morning should be a red flag.
Because it is a sleep disorder, falling asleep at the wheel is a very common symptom for people with the condition. Suffering from apnea is not only inconvenient for you, it can even be dangerous!
When you visit your dentist, do not hesitate to mention these symptoms. Apnea comes in several types; your dentist is qualified to detect obstructive sleep apnea and primary snoring and can help you.
If your case is beyond your dentist’s expertise, he or she can refer you to the appropriate physician. In all cases, your dentist will deliver a prescription to consult a sleep medicine specialist for testing.
Be aware that untreated apnea can lead to various complications and consequences, some of which can be serious:
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular disease
How to Treat Apnea
Most of the time, it will be a concerted effort between different health professionals, including your general practitioner, a pulmonologist and sometimes your dentist.
First of all, it is important to know that apnea is often linked to overweight and obesity. If this is your case, exercising and losing weight may be a good first step to reduce the symptoms and risks.
As for treatments, CPAP is the best known: this device worn at night blows air through the nose to normalize breathing at night.
Another possible treatment is the mandibular advancement orthosis (MAO). In many cases of obstructive apnea, this is a good solution. As the name suggests, this oral device advances the mandible, i.e. the lower jaw, as well as the tongue.
Thus, airways are cleared, reducing breathing interruptions. This treatment is often used to care for less severe cases, as a complement to CPAP or as an option for travel. It will also be an alternative for the many patients who do not tolerate CPAP.
After your doctor diagnoses you with sleep apnea, your dentist will be able to determine if you are a good candidate for a MAO. If you are, your dentist will custom design the orthosis for you. The braces are intended to progressively move the mandible forward in the form of aligners.
Apnea and Malocclusion
Apnea is generally not caused by the position of the teeth, but malocclusion can be an aggravating factor. The tongue may not have enough room, which can lead to airway obstruction.
The position of the jaw or the problematic alignment of the teeth must be corrected by orthodontic treatment. Some bite and alignment problems can be corrected with Invisalign treatments offered at our dental center.
However, the most important conditions will require the intervention of a specialized orthodontist. Do not hesitate to ask your dentist about the relevance of orthodontic treatment.
In any case, don’t be left alone with a sleeping disorder: it affects your quality of life and has many consequences.
The Centre Dentaire & D’implantologie Boucherville Takes Care of You!
General health and oral health are often intertwined. Your dentist is a specialist equipped to recognize certain symptoms and can play a central role in the diagnosis of certain disorders and diseases.
At our dental centre in the South Shore, we take care of your teeth, but not only! Make an appointment for your next routine examination.