Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
Symptoms and Risk Factors
OSA is a disorder in which the throat muscles relax and ultimately block the airway during sleep. This can happen for a few seconds, or sometimes minutes. Although anyone can develop OSA, you are particularly at risk if you carry extra weight, have diabetes, have a narrow airway, or suffer from asthma and chronic nasal congestion.
While doctors and dentists can keep an eye out for signs of OSA, you can help expedite the diagnosis and treatment process by familiarizing yourself with the symptoms. Common symptoms include the following:
- Frequent and loud snoring
- Depression and irritability
- High blood pressure
- Night sweats
- Decreased libido
- Difficulty remembering
- Difficulty breathing during sleep
Receiving a Diagnosis from a Dentist
In the past, primary care doctors and specialists were the only professionals to turn to for a sleep apnea diagnosis. Now, more and more dentists are starting to provide this service thanks to advancements in dental technology. Using a symptom and risk factor screening questionnaire and a cone beam computerized tomography (CBCT) scan, a dentist can determine areas of concern. This scan can be completed quickly in office.
Previously, patients had to participate in an overnight sleep study at a designated center for a diagnosis. However, dentists can now provide patients with overnight sleep monitors that can be worn in the comfort of their own beds. This device records episodes of interrupted breathing, and the results will guide the patient’s treatment plan.
For mild and moderate cases of OSA, a dental appliance can completely alleviate issues. OSA dental appliances move the jaw forward and increase the size of the upper airway, which prevents the throat muscles from relaxing and blocking the air flow. There are multiple types of dental appliances, and your dentist should be able to determine which type is the best fit for your case. Although you can find over-the-counter oral appliances, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved them for obstructive sleep apnea treatment (source).
Unfortunately, dental devices can’t help everyone. Severe cases of OSA require the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If you need a CPAP machine, your dentist will refer you to a specialist. A CPAP machine attaches to your face like a mask and has a tube that connects to a machine. This machine supplies pressurized air to you while you sleep, which prevents episodes of apnea (temporary cessation of breathing) and hypopnea (slow or shallow breathing) during sleep.
Some individuals find it difficult to sleep comfortably with a CPAP machine. If this is the case, doctors can sometimes work to come up with another treatment plan, such as surgery or upper airway stimulation (UAS) therapy. Losing weight can also help alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea if the individual is overweight.
At Duff Family Dental, we are proud to be one of the few dental providers in southwest Missouri able to diagnose and provide obstructive sleep apnea treatment. We offer a variety of other services including cosmetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry, composite fillings, dental bonding, and more. Ask our qualified staff what Duff Family Dental can do for you. To get started, give us a call at 417-501-8601 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!