Sleep Apnea Options for Dental Health Treatments

Jamie J. Alexander on November 8, 2017

You’ve been hearing about obstructive sleep apnea for years now, and likely know someone who sleeps with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. Perhaps, you know someone who sleeps with an alternative type of device. Perhaps, you or someone you love snores or has other symptoms, and should be diagnosed. When it comes to sleep apnea options in the dental health field, we can help meet your needs.

A recent report and conversation at the 2017 American Dental Academy Meeting are underscoring the need for dentists to have conversations with their patients about the risks of OSA and potentially life-saving treatment. Approximately 52 million Americans and almost one-fourth of the men seen in any dental practice have OSA. However, less than 15% of these people have been diagnosed with OSA, and only 25% of this group has successfully used a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device all night every night.

At Jamie Alexander, D.D.S., in Boynton Beach, we screen our patients and refer them to an OSA expert for diagnostic workup. If one of our patients finds they are not compliant with always sleeping with prescribed CPAP, we help them understand there are other sleep apnea options for treatment, including a custom dental appliance that can be adjusted to keep the airway open.

“I’d rather help my patients find a solution that works for them than to have them be oxygen deprived throughout the night,” says Dr. Alexander. “I can refer you a Sleep Dental Medicine expert, who will collaborate with your physician to keep you at lower risk of heart attack or stroke. If you have diabetes, treatment of your OSA will regulate your blood glucose.”

Both men and women suffer from OSA. Screening is important for children, not just adults. Snoring is a sign. Children can be treated for OSA in childhood.

Dental signs and symptoms of OSA include:

  • Bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding)
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
  • Tooth wear and enamel crazing (fine cracks)

OSA sufferers commonly report:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking/gasping for breath during sleeping
  • Waking up frequently
  • Going to the bathroom frequently at night
  • Daytime naps, daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, irritability, or falling asleep during routine activities
  • Higher number of cups of coffee consumed daily
  • Higher body mass index
  • Insomnia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)/acid reflux

Sedation medication and alcohol can worsen OSA.

Statistical studies indicate that if you have one or more of the following disease conditions, you need to be especially proactive about diagnosing and treating OSA.

  • Obesity (50% of those who are obese have OSA.)
  • High blood pressure (50% of those with high blood pressure have OSA.)
  • Coronary artery disease (28% of those with coronary artery disease have OSA.)
  • Stroke (80% of those who have experienced stroke have OSA.)
  • Depression (32% of those with diagnosed depression have OSA.)
  • TMD and/or bruxism (30% with TMD/bruxism have OSA.)

The good news is that when the OSA is treated the risk factors of the co-morbid diseases decrease. We encourage our patients to chat with us about sleep apnea options for dental health, questions, and concerns, and to seek a referral from Dr. Alexander. Is it time to make your next dental appointment? Give us a call today. There is much at stake, and we have much knowledge we can share with you.