Sleep apnea is an extremely common sleep disorder. In fact, approximately 20% of adults live with this condition, according to a study published in the American Medical Association Journal. In spite of it being so prevalent, many people live with this disorder for long periods of time without even knowing it is cause of their…
Questions and Answers About How a General Dentist Can Help With Sleep Apnea
If you are concerned about sleep apnea, you should seek treatment right away. This condition causes you to stop breathing while you are asleep. The effects can be severe, including the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It can even be fatal. Your general dentist can help you overcome this condition and breathe properly at night. You can get the information and guidance you need when you schedule a consultation and examination with your dentist.
What sleep apnea does
There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. With the former, the brain does not send signals to the respiratory system, complicating a person’s ability to breathe effectively. With obstructive, blockage in the airway inhibits the person’s respiration. This can be abnormally large tonsils, excess tissue in the throat, or the tongue blocking the airway. Relaxing muscles can also cause this condition. The effects can lead to extreme fatigue and a drop in oxygen levels in the body.
How a dentist can recognize the condition
Many people think of a dentist as a person who solely focuses on teeth and gums. Dentists can also treat sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. There are clues that point to a person having this illness, and some include dental issues. People who have this condition often snore or grind their teeth. A dentist can identify this by seeing that the teeth are worn. The dentist may also see that the patient has redness in the throat or a small jaw, both of which point to sleep apnea.
How a dentist diagnoses it and makes a treatment plan
If the patient has symptoms of sleep apnea, the dentist will thoroughly examine the patient. This may include X-rays and a hands-on exam. Some dentists will suggest a sleep study, which could reveal the extent and severity of the condition. With this information, the dentist can decide how to most effectively combat the illness. This will be different for each patient. The plan may depend on the individual’s health and how profound the blockage is.
Treating the disorder
Medical doctors usually treat sleep apnea with a CPAP machine, but the dentist will use other methods. After seeing that there is blockage in the airway, the dentist may prescribe a mouthguard. This appliance will push the jaw forward, opening the airway for effective breathing. If the tongue is getting in the way and inhibiting breathing, a tongue depressor may be the right solution. This device holds the tongue in place and prevents it from moving to the back of the throat. After starting the treatment, the dentist will follow up regularly with the patient to make sure the appliance fits well and works properly.
Get the right help when you need it
You should never ignore the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. The results could be harsh and may even take your life. Your dentist is concerned about your oral health and overall wellness. To find answers about this condition, you can go to your dentist. These steps can help you breathe normally again at night.
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