More Smiles Dental Spa Dentistry Blog | James A. Moreau, Jr., D.D.S.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Need a Good Night's Sleep?

Is someone keeping you up at night snoring? Do you yourself wake up gasping for breath?

When you're sleeping, your jaw relaxes and causes the space for air passing through your throat to becomes smaller. The increased velocity of air passing through the compressed space is what causes the snoring sound. If you're gasping for air, that means you are actually stopping breathing. This can be very harmful to your health and lead to numerous, serious health problems, like heart attacks, strokes, even early death.

It's important to know how frequently this is happening throughout the night and for how long. A polysomnograph (PSG) study can be arranged by our office to provide complete sleep analysis data which is interpreted by a board certified sleep physician.

In cases reported to be "mild to moderate", an oral appliance provided by our dental professionals may be the best choice to comfortably open the airway during the night. For "severe" cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the treatment of choice is a CPAP device worn on the patient's head during sleep to allow a continous flow of air into the passageway.

Unfortunately CPAP compliance is pretty low and a large percentage of patients are intolerant of the mask and hoses and stop using the CPAP altogether after a short period of trial and error. For those patients, an oral appliance may still provide relief for Sleep Apnea by discreetly positioning the lower jaw into a forward position that keeps the airway open.

Besides the dangers of untreated sleep apnea, the disrupted sleep patterns caused by obstructed airways can also deprive you of much needed stages of deep sleep. If you feel tired during the day, wake up feeling like you haven't had enough sleep, or need to take naps during the day, then these are all signs that you may have an Obstructive Sleep Disorder that needs attention.

By asking you the right questions and being as thorough as we know how in our dental exams, we try to help monitor our patients' general health and will screen our patients for sleep breathing disorders. Our exam includes identifying tell-tale signs of mouth breathing as well as risk factors such as weight and neck size.

Even the "Wall Street Journal" has cited the importance of regular dental checkups to your overall health. Since many people see their dentist regularly, once or twice a year, the dentist is in prime position to notice changes in a patient's health history early, and detect signs and symptoms in the mouth that could lead to early detection of serious health problems like sleep disorders. We work with board certified sleep medicine physicians and local sleep labs to see that our patients are properly diagnosed and offer oral appliance therapy for those patients than cannot tolerate a CPAP.

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posted by MoreSmiles at 10:10 PM

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